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Reporter identifies PUJ pickpocket

First Posted 09:12:00 12/21/2010

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THEFT charges were filed yesterday against four men arrested by police on suspicion that they were part of a ?laglag barya? gang that stole cell phones of jeepney passengers.

One man was identified by a news reporter who lost her phone. CEBU DAILY NEWS? Candeze Mongaya, 21, identified Edmund Esquera, 38, of Ormoc City as the man who sat beside her in a jeepney bound for Osmea Boulevard on Dec. 15.

She said another man across distracted her attention by telling here there were cobwebs in her hair.

When she raised both hands to her head to check, Esquera suddenly disembarked.

Suspicious, Mongaya checked her bag and discovered her P10,000 phone gone.

However, after the group?s arrest, Mongaya?s phone was not returned.

Esquera's cohorts were identified as Joel Pacabes, 46, and Jobert Besante, 41, from Ormoc City; and Joseto dela Cruz, 38, of Lapu-Lapu City.

The four men were arrested Sunday after a hot-pursuit operation led by Insp. Alexander Nunez of the Subangdaku police station in Mandaue City.

Nunez was responding to another cell phone theft where Jonathan Zapanta complained that he, too, lost his phone on a Mandaue-bound jeepney. Police spotted the suspects in MC Briones Street and recovered five cell phones from them.

Esquera denied he was a thief, saying they just arrive from Leyte Sunday morning to hunt for jobs. /REPORTER JUCELL MARIE P. CUYOS

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