FOUR robberies occurred in a span of five hours following a prison break.
Police are trying to establish if there is a direct link between the robberies and five prisoners who escaped from the medium corrections facility at Naboro at 8.38pm on Monday.
On the run are Isoa Waqa, 30 of Waitovu, Ovalau who is serving eight years for robbery with violence; Solomoni Qurai, 28, of Tavuki, Kadavu; who is serving a life sentence for burglary and murder; Tevita Sugu, 29 of Tavuki, Kadavu; who is serving a 13-year-term for aggravated robbery; Josaia Usumaki, 25, of Nakasaleka, Kadavu, who is serving 26 years for robbery with violence and related offences; and Epeli Qaraniqio, 30 of Lamiti, Gau, who is serving eight years for robbery with violence and related offences.
Responding to questions from The Fiji Times, police spokeswoman Ana Naisoro said from Monday night alone there were a series of robberies in the Central Division
"At 10.50pm a case of theft of a motor vehicle was reported at Lower Ragg Avenue whereby a black Hyundai eight-seater van was reported stolen it was later recovered this morning in Cunningham," she said.
"It is alleged that a group of five men at 12.30am robbed the Wishbone Restaurant in Centrepoint and stole the cash register.
"A report was later received from Muanikau where a group of men forcefully broke into a home of a doctor and stole items to the total value of $3900.
"Half an hour later it is alleged the five masked men armed with pinch bars and beer bottles entered and threatened the staff of Peninsula Hotel and stole items to the total value of $329 property belonging to the receptionist."
Ms Naisoro cautioned members of the public but especially family members to abide by the law and not harbour the escapees.
She also requested people to be patient with police over the next 24 hours as they conduct operations to recapture the escapees.
"Our main priority at this stage is to recapture the five escapees and as such roadblocks will have to be erected especially during peak hours when the opportunity may rise for these escapees to move out of Central and Southern divisions," Ms Naisoro said.
"This may cause some inconvenience and we are asking for patience as our operations team have been tasked to recapture the five over the next 24 hours and all relevant manpower and resources have been directed towards this operation."