Land, sea, air hunt foils gold gang’s exit from Oman

Energy Wednesday 21/September/2016 22:27 PM
By: Times News Service
Land, sea, air hunt foils gold gang’s exit from Oman

Muscat: Details of the forensic police operation that prevented a gang’s audacious plot to spirit OMR1.4m in gold out of Oman have been revealed.
Read here: Blowtorch gang arrested for OMR1.4m gold heist in Oman
The investigation, by a squad of detectives within the Royal Oman Police Directorate General of Inquiries and Investigations, involved Interpol and catching suspects attempting to flee by sea and by air.
Two of those arrested were taken off an international flight as it was about to leave Muscat International Airport.
Others were caught trying to flee by sea, police confirmed.
Officers spent more than six weeks forensically tracking movements of vehicles used by the gang and discovered that on the night of the heist they drove a car full of 37kg of gold straight past the Royal Palace – one of Oman’s most heavily protected areas.
The jigsaw puzzle for the police team was finally completed when they tracked the gang to an address in Hamriya, just a short drive from the jewellery store in Muttrah Souq they raided.
Officers within the Directorate General of Inquiries and Investigations hunted down six of the nine criminals – all of whom are of Asian nationality – and have alerted Interpol to help catch another three men they believe were involved.
The ROP revealed exclusive details of the Muttrah case to Times of Oman.
On August 4, police first received a call at 8:15am about a robbery in one of the jewellery stores in Muttrah’s Gold Souq.
The gang ransacked the store in Muttrah after using a blowtorch to cut open the chains that secured the metal grates.
They hauled 37 kilograms of pure gold from the store valued at OMR 1.2 million, according to the police report.
Detectives and forensic specialists tracking them down were stunned to see that the route the gang took back to the rented apartment in Hamriya meant they were hauling over a million rials worth of gold while passing through one of the most secure areas in Muscat, where Al Alam Palace, National Museum of Oman and the State Council are located.
Investigators did not have many leads to find the criminals but using sophisticated methods and the technology available to them to put pieces of the puzzle in place, they were able to make the arrests.
“Six criminals were arrested and three are left and the authorities are looking for them,” said the official.
“They were able to find and monitor the vehicle they were using for the crime which helped them get more information about their movements and location,” explained the official.
“The first two suspects were found boarding a plane and trying to escape,” he added.
“Of course, they were able to find more information through analysing phone calls and video footage which prompted us to summon some potential suspects,” added the ROP official.
Some of the criminals were trying to escape via the sea in Wilayat of Barka but the police were able to capture them before they were able to flee through coordination with police in the wilayat.
By that time two of the suspects had already escaped and police confirmed they have notified Interpol locally and internationally. officers believe the suspects are in one of the neighbouring Gulf Cooperation Council States.
The remaining OMR200,000 worth of jewellery was stolen by the same gang in Seeb, Muscat.
Jewellery store owners in Muttrah Souq are considering hiring night patrol guards after the raid. The owner of the shop targeted said he had no insurance cover.