web Screen Shot from robbery video
A video, above, circulated shortly after an alleged armed robbery on July 1, showing two people in white coveralls running out of the House of Luxury at the pier park. (Screenshot: WHATSAPP)

Shots were fired but no injuries were reported following an armed robbery at about 2 p.m. July 1 at the House of Luxury at the Cyril B. Romney Tortola Pier Park, police said.

Videos circulating on social media within minutes of the incident showed two people dressed in white coveralls running out of the jewellery store.

Seconds later, several shots rang out, drawing screams from people apparently observing the incident from nearby.

One of the people in the video appeared to have locks past their shoulders and to be wearing gloves in addition to a hooded white coverall. The other appeared to be dressed similarly but was less visible in the videos viewed by the Beacon.

About two hours after the robbery, the Police Information Office released a statement providing limited details about the incident but noting that “several” people were in or around the pier park at the time.

“Those who witnessed the robbery are asked to provide any information, no matter how insignificant it may seem,” the announcement stated.

More info

On July 4, police issued an update with a few more details.

“Employees of the store reported that two armed masked persons entered the store dressed in all white,” the press release stated. “One assailant proceeded to remove jewellery from the showcases, and both fled the scene toward the parking lot with a quantity of the store’s merchandise. The value of the stolen items is undetermined at this time.”

The release did not include any further description of the perpetrators, but it added that one of them shot a firearm while “outside the compound.”

Around the time of the robbery, police said July 4, they also received reports of gunshots fired near Road Reef and in the area of The Stickett in Long Look.

Those reports, too, are under investigation, according to the PIO.

No arrests were reported as of the Beacon’s print deadline yesterday afternoon, but police also said July 4 that the Criminal Investigations Department was “tracking several leads” in connection with the pier park robbery.

“No details on our efforts to identify the suspects in this case can be released to the public at this time,” said acting Police Commissioner St. Clair Amory. “However, we are making steady progress in our inquiries.”

National Security Council

After the robbery, the members of the National Security Council were briefed by the police commissioner, the NSC announced shortly after 6 p.m. on the day of the crime.

“The NSC wishes to assure everyone that the security of the people of the Virgin Islands is of paramount concern and that no stone will be left unturned in bringing the perpetrators of this crime to justice,” the council promised, adding, “Meanwhile, there will be an increased presence at the pier park and at other events taking place in the territory this weekend to help ensure the public’s safety.”

meeting with rymer
Communications and Works Minister Kye Rymer, who holds responsibility for ports, called an emergency meeting with stakeholders the day after the daylight armed robbery at Cyril B. Romney Tortola Pier Park. (Photo: GIS)
Emergency meeting

On July 3, Communications and Works Minister Kye Rymer, who holds responsibility for ports, also called an emergency meeting with pier park stakeholders in response to the incident.

“The meeting primarily addressed the recent robbery at the pier park to ensure the safety of the park and its users and collaborate on robust strategies to enhance security measures,” according to a press release from Government Information Services.

Meeting attendees included the chairs and other senior representatives of the BVI Ports Authority, Tortola Pier Park Ltd, and the BVI Tourist Board; the acting permanent secretary for the Ministry for Communication and Works; and the acting police commissioner.

To assist police investigations, Tortola Pier Park Ltd and the BVIPA “promptly” provided full access to the park’s CCTV cameras, according to the press release.

Security audit

Additionally, a “thorough security audit” of the pier park has been commissioned to “precisely evaluate the existing security protocols and systems in place, identify potential vulnerabilities, and propose necessary enhancements,” the release stated.

It added that a comprehensive report will be presented July 10 to Mr. Rymer and the boards of both the BVIPA and TPPL.

“During the audit process, the ministry has proactively requested additional support from the [police] to augment the security presence at the pier,” the release added. “This proactive measure aims to reinforce public confidence in the areas of security while balancing guest experience until the audit is concluded.”

The release described the emergency meeting as a success.

“Plans were outlined to support the implementation of comprehensive mitigation strategies that will ensure the utmost safety of the park and its valued visitors,” it added.

The release also promised that the ministry will work with the BVIPA, TPPL and the BVITB to implement measures to “fortify security capabilities” at the pier park.

“Updates on its progress and further initiatives will be communicated to the public as progressive measures are put in place,” the release added.