Berbice grocer beaten, robbed -fourth robbery in four years

Three armed men on Monday night beat and robbed a grocery store owner of a quantity of money at Angoy's Avenue, New Amsterdam, Berbice.

The men, who wore masks, robbed Arjune Balak of 114 Angoy's Avenue of $40,000, his day's earnings from his shop. Balak who operates his business adjacent to his home, said he usually closes his shop at 7 pm and goes over to his house where he sits with his wife on the landing and relaxes.

According to Balak, on Monday night he was sitting on his landing with his wife and youngest son when he saw someone peeping at the side of his steps. He said he turned to his wife and said "bandit". But she did not run because she thought it was someone playing a trick on them.

Three men armed with guns accosted them then and took them into the house, where they demanded money.

He said they hit him with a gun about his head and face, grabbed his eight-year-old son and threatened to shoot him if they were not given money. Balak said they found the day's earnings on a table. After taking the money the men fled.

The Balaks sounded an alarm and neighbours went to their aid. They called the police and neighbours took Arjune to the hospital where he received ten stitches to his head.

When this newspaper visited yesterday afternoon Balak said he had applied for a firearm licence twice and has not received a reply to date. He showed this newspaper letters that he wrote to the Minister of Home Affairs, Commissioner of 'B' Division and the Region Six Firearm Committee.

Balak said he borrowed money from the bank to construct the new building where his shop is located so that he can live over his business place.

He said the robberies are frustrating him, but he does not intend leaving the country and he needs protection because it seems like the bandits are targeting him.

His older son Vicky Balak who was not at his home at the time of the robbery said, "I am asking the President if someone has to die before they can get protection."

Balak has been robbed four times. In 2002, bandits stole $300,000 after tying up his watchman. On March 24, 2003 bandits robbed his home of almost $2 million after shooting it up. On April 11, 2003 they stole kerosene from his shop. Monday night's robbery was the fourth.

The police are continuing their investigations. (Keisha McCammon)