Gold heists on the rise
There was a spate of jewellery shop robberies reported from Dehiwela
during the period 2005 to 2007 when robbers got away with huge haul of
gold jewellery estimated to be worth around Rs. 100 million.
The modus operandi of the robbers was quite bold and chilling like
that of the old Wild West where bandits storm grocery shops and robbed
everything including cash. It looked as if the local robbers too had
imitated the Wild West by storming into jewellery shops and robbing its
Most of the robberies had taken place when jewellery shops were about
to be closed. The robbers had threatened to kill it's shop keeper and
its employees and had demanded the jewellery. That had been their modus
During the period 2005- 2007 robbers had robbed several jewellery
shops in Dehiwela and got away with a large haul of gold jewellery after
threatening the shop keepers. Initially Police were baffled as there
were no clues about the robbers.
Even people who knew about them were too frightened to inform the
police fearing reprisals from the robbers. On earlier occasions several
such prosecution witnesses had been shot dead by armed robbers.
Jewellery business at Dehiwela- Wellawatte areas flourished during
the past two decades due to several factors. People from conflict zone
areas settled in these areas and the sale of gold jewellery rose by
tenfold. Jewellery businessmen prospered to the envy of robbers.
Their prosperity often reflected in their ostentatious way of living.
They often travelled about in limousines and became potential targets of
underworld criminals who either abducted or robbed them. The underworld
gangs knew that it was just a cake walk to rob jewellery shops . Rich
businessmen became their potential targets.
It all began with the heist at the Ramal jewellery shop at Dehiwela
in early part of 2006. The robbers armed with knives entered the
jewellery shop just after dusk and demanded the gold and gems from its
They even threatened to kill it's manager and other employees if they
stood in their way. Thereafter they helped themselves to the jewellery
and gems that were on display in the show cases.
The gold jewellery and gems worth Rs 50 lakhs were put into a bag and
the robbers vanished into the darkness without leaving any trace. Police
visited the scene of the crime, and did their usual observations, took
copious notes on the modus operandi adopted by the robbers.
But to their amazement the robbers struck again at a jewellery shop
at Dehiwela on 9.5 2005. Jewellery and gold worth Rs 10 lakhs were
Police later found their modus operandi had matched the earlier
robberies staged a few months ago. The Policeman now had a vague idea of
the robbers whom they thought were the culprits.
They relentlessly pursued a gang called the Makkara gang from
Bodowita in the Athditiya Dehiwela area. By then the men had disappeared
from their abode and could not be traced. However during the next two
years Jewellery shop keepers in these areas breathed a sigh of relief.
It was because there weren't marauding gangs that broke into their shops
and robbed their precious gold and gems. But their happiness was short
After a lapse of nearly two years the robber struck again. This time
they stormed into Ruby Jewellers at Dehiwela one evening and got away
with a haul of gold jewellery and gems worth more than Rs 30 lakhs. As
before the robbers had threatened to kill the employees as in the
The robbers having entered the shop demanded the gold jewellery from
the shop keeper. They made a clean sweep of the place and vanished with
the loot without leaving a trace behind. Police heard the harrowing
story of its employees of the jewellery shop and learnt that one robber
was armed with a revolver this time.
It was just a coincidence when police began to wonder whether the
revolver robbed from the armoury at Kohuwela had fallen into the hands
of the under world men. It happened some time back when a Sub -
Inspector of police attached to the Kohuwela police had returned his
service revolver along with 50 round of ammunition to armoury after
finishing his duty.
Meanwhile a Home Guard Wasantha on duty at the Kohuwela police
station who had access to the armoury had allegedly robbed the revolver
and gave it a underworld character. He in turn handed over the revolver
to his brother Priyantha Fern do who was the mastermind behind the
jewellery shops robberies at Dehiwela.
On a tip off received by Police Sergeant Jayasinghe from the Mirihana
Special Investigation Unit he was on the trail of Priyantha Fernando.
Soon he learnt that the suspect had gone to Dubai for employment. But
the suspect had returned to Sri Lanka in November 2006 after being in
Dubai for nearly one year.
Whist in Dubai he had cultivated a relationship with a woman from
Ehatugaswewa in Weli-Oya area. Soon after his return to Sri Lanka he had
gone to live with the woman at Ehatugaswewa area.
A police team went to Ehatugaswewa in search of the suspect but he
wasn't there. But soon they learned the mistress was making preparation
to visit her paramour at Mawanaella on the following day. But police did
not know the exact location where suspect Priyatha Fernando had taken
On the following day around 3.30.p.m. policemen in civil clothing
followed the woman and her father who boarded a bus at Janakapura. The
bus was bound to Anuradhapura.
At Anuradhapura both the father and the daughter boarded another bus
bound to Kandy. At the Kandy bus stand the father went to a near by shop
and purchased a Cellular mobile card. Thereafter the father and the
daughter boarded a bus bound to Mawanaella.
Policemen too followed them to Mawanella and arrested the suspect at
the bus stand who had come to meet his beloved woman. The team of police
officers who followed and arrested the Suspect are Police Sergeant 27869
Jayasinghe, PS 27856 Hematha, PS 28511 Lakmal, PS, 28415 Lakshaman and
PS 20 553 Mendis under the supervision of Chief Inspector C. Tilekeratne
of the Mirihana Special Investigating Unit.