Venezuelan policemen held for dividing thieves' booty

Caracas, August 2 (IANS/EFE) Nine Venezuelan policemen were arrested for dividing among themselves the valuables they seized from a group of thieves who robbed two jewellery stores in the capital, the authorities said.

The investigation department of the Chacao police Wednesday filed a complaint with the attorney general's office saying that "the police officers charged with guarding the site where the robbery of two jewellery stores occurred appropriated the physical evidence abandoned" by the thieves, according to a statement released Thursday by the Venezuelan public ministry.

"It is important to mention that the police officers may have violated the (procedural manual for chain of custody and physical evidence)," the attorney general's office said.

The public ministry said that Tuesday night several men entered a mall in eastern Caracas and waited until it closed, whereupon they subdued one of the security guards there.

After opening the doors of two jewellery stores and taking a "large quantity of (merchandise)", the alleged thieves noticed that "two Venezuelans, two Russians and four Belarusians" were still inside the mall and took them hostage.

At that time, the police officers arrived on the scene and after an exchange of gunfire, the thieves fled and the officers pursued them into the western part of the capital, where one of the thieves was killed and the others presumably escaped.

Later, the authorities learnt that the police officers had divided among themselves the items stolen by the gang and arrested them.

--IANS/EFE

sud/rd/vm

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