Cebu News

“Pickpocket” minors along Colon arrested

The Freeman

CEBU, Philippines - Eight minors allegedly involved in pickpocket incidents in Cebu City were rescued while a man identified as one of those who would allegedly instruct them to steal cellular phones was arrested yesterday afternoon.

Four of the minors, ages 12 to 16, were positively identified by one of their victims, a 23-year-old man working at the Cebu City Hall.

The victim, who requested anonymity, said while he was walking within Colon area in Cebu City, he noticed the four minors conniving with each other and apparently had a motive against him.

He said when the 16-year-old pregnant girl bumped his back, he immediately checked the pocket of his jacket and found out that his cellular phone was already missing.

The victim said he tried to catch the girls but failed. He then reported the incident to the Carbon Police Station and was thankful that the personnel from the Waterfront Police Station were able to catch the four minors, together with four other kids.

Chief Inspector Jose Gesto, acting chief of the Waterfront Police Station, said even if the area of the incident is not under their jurisdiction, they take action whenever there are incidents within downtown area.

This after instruction was given by the city’s police headquarters to the Parian Police Station and Waterfront Police Station to help one another in keeping guard of areas where people would usually converge and a lot of robbery incidents happen.

Gesto said the same minors have already been rescued by their station several times for the same offense but because they cannot be jailed, they are always released.

He said their modus operandi is to distract the target by blocking or bumping them and immediately slipping their hands to where an item is placed.

In an interview with the four positively-identified minors, they admitted they stole the victim’s cellular phone but put the blame on each other, saying that they were just forced to do so because the others allegedly instructed the other.

The four were turned over to the Department of Social Welfare and Services yesterday morning.

May Amor Cañete, a social worker at the DSWS, said they will invite the parents of the minors to their office to process and let them know what action will be done to the minors, especially to the ones aged 15 and 16, since they can be detained at the Bagong Buhay Rehabilitation Center.

Cañete said their problem with Children In Conflict With Law is that they do not have enough facility to accommodate them, especially the girls.

She said the only facility they can rely on, aside from the BBRC, are those run by non-government organizations that are willing to accommodate these minors.

If none, she said they would have to bring back the children to their families but they will coordinate with barangay officials to help them monitor the minors.

“Mao gyud na ang problema. Reality pud gyud na. We have to bring them back kay mao man sad na ang naa sa balaod gud,” she said.

The minors were able to identify to the policemen though one of the men who would reportedly instruct them to steal cellular phones.

At around 12:30 p.m. yesterday, Marcelo Amahan, 27, of Gochan Street, Cebu City was arrested by policemen of the Waterfront Police Station in an entrapment operation along Leon Kilat Street, Cebu City.

Amahan fell into the trap of buying a cellular phone from a police asset even when he was informed that the cellular phone was stolen.  On the other hand, Amahan denied all the allegations and said he is a full time tattoo artist. He said he only goes to the area during his free time to visit his friends who are there working.

However, he was positively identified by the minors as the one who would sometimes instruct them to steal cellular phones and would then buy the stolen items from the minors.

The minors alleged Amahan still has two other cohorts.

Amahan will be facing charges for violating the Anti-Fencing Law or a law prohibiting any individual to gain profit by the effects of the crimes of robbery and theft. —  Ma. Fatima R. Secuya/ATO

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