The Department of Public Safety has caught the man who allegedly robbed the I-ZONE Electronics Store over the weekend.
According to DPS spokesperson Dre Pangelinan, police received a tip last Saturday that the person responsible for the robbery at I-ZONE was Alvaro Joseph Cabrera. During an interview with DPS detectives, they noticed that Cabrera had an iPhone that matched the description of one that was reported stolen on the day of the incident. Cabrera later allegedly admitted to committing the robbery and was arrested at about 10:33pm and brought to the Department of Corrections where he was booked and detained.
Pangelinan said DPS received a call on Friday, July 31, at about 7:38pm, from the I-ZONE Electronics Store in Chalan Kanoa, Saipan. The call was cut off mid-conversation. Officers were immediately dispatched to the scene where they learned that a robbery incident had just occurred.
A preliminary investigation revealed that the lone male suspect was dressed in a long-sleeved shirt, hat, and his face was covered with a mask. Video taken from the surveillance camera showed the suspect walking into I-ZONE with a knife and demand money from an employee. The video later circulated widely on social media in the CNMI.
The suspect then climbed over the glass counter and demanded money from the cashier, who was behind the counter. He then grabbed money from the cash register and put them in his pocket and followed the employees to the back of the store before turning around and fleeing the scene. He then headed south with a little over $1,000 in cash and two iPhones.
In an interview, I-ZONE owner Tom Gu said it seemed like the incident was premeditated.
“It happened around closing time, around 7:34pm because we close at 8pm. My worker had just left. Sshe left at around 7:20pm and he came around 7:30pm. It seemed like he was watching the store from the outside,” he said.
Gu said that, for as long he and his wife have been in business, the couple never experienced a robbery like that and they never thought they would.
“This is the first time. We opened our store for more than 10 years already and we really never would think this would happen to us. You see in the news these robberies at poker rooms but we didn’t expect this because our store is so close to the road and we don’t close late. We never think about that,” he said.
Gu said he understands that life is hard, especially considering the COVID-19 pandemic that has left many nearly destitute; however, it doesn’t excuse wrongdoings against businesses who are also trying to stay afloat.
“[It’s] not only us; others in the business community are scared, even members of the community. I know life is hard, but it’s hard for businesses too. I understand people don’t have money or jobs nowadays but it doesn’t mean you can do bad things to others like stealing,” he said.
Gu said he didn’t recognize the robber because masks have become the new normal so they didn’t think anything of it.
“We thought it was just a regular customer. My wife even tried to approach him to provide service and he just jumped inside, cracking our glass counter. I don’t know if he’s a regular customer because everyone wears masks. It’s the new normal, so I didn’t recognize him. It’s hard to see,” he said.