Jerusalem Police on Sunday cleared for publication details of a kidnapping and multi-million dollar ransom attempt on a prominent Jerusalem businesswoman and her housekeeper, which began in the capital two weeks ago, and ended days later outside an apartment in Petah Tikva.
According to police, the affair began on April 11, when three men from the Tel Aviv area knocked on the door at the woman’s residence in the luxury David’s Village complex in the capital’s Mamilla quarter.
One of the men, carrying a handgun, identified himself as a security guard and asked the woman to open the door.
When she did, all three men pushed their way into the apartment and ordered both the businesswoman and her housekeeper to pack clothes for “an extended stay.”
“If you don’t come easily, there is another way,” one of the kidnappers threatened the women at gunpoint, police said.
Neither of the women’s names have been cleared for publication by police.
While the women packed, the kidnappers took their cellphones and then began rummaging through the apartment, stealing two personal computers, expensive jewelry and a valuable hand-painted Chinese egg.
The kidnappers then loaded the two women into a Suzuki van and drove to Petah Tikva.
The following day, police received complaints from the housekeeper’s family and the businesswoman’s personal assistant regarding the pair’s disappearance.
The callers both told police they feared the women were in danger, and police began to put together a special investigation team comprised of Jerusalem and Central district detectives, and officers from the special investigations unit and a special intelligence unit.
“The police opened an investigation, and after reviewing security camera footage, ascertained that in fact, the three men, one of them armed, had entered the building on the 11th [of April],” police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld told The Jerusalem Post on Sunday. “The investigation then obviously took on a much more serious tone.”
A fax was received by the businesswoman’s accountant in Luxembourg, demanding that she transfer $3.5 million to a bank account in Sofia, Bulgaria. The fax was written in the businesswoman’s handwriting and had her signature on it.
Investigators employed a number of tactics to locate the women, including cellular location technology, which led police to a building on Zohar Street in Petah Tikva.
Detectives and SWAT team members surrounded the building. Officers refrained from entering the building immediately, out of fear for the safety of the women and their forces, as the kidnappers were considered to be armed and dangerous.
On April 13, police spotted one of the suspects leaving the apartment building with the two women, getting into the van and driving off. Police later ascertained that the suspects, wary of a police raid, wanted to move the women to another location.
Detectives followed the van, pulling it over at the Shimshon junction, where the women were rescued and the driver, 45-year-old Petah Tikva resident Michael Yuroslavsky, was subdued and arrested.
Meanwhile, detectives and SWAT officers raided the apartment, where they turned up dozens of automatic weapons, including handguns and rifles, ammunition magazines, commando knives, silencers, handcuffs, legcuffs, ski masks, bullet-proof vests, night vision goggles, telescopic weapon sights, a slew of counterfeit passports, Israeli IDs, army IDs and make-up kits – presumably to be used for disguises in the suspects’ getaway.
Investigators continued tracking down the suspects, and with assistance
from Petah Tikva Police, arrested Robert Abayev, a 38-year-old Bat Yam
resident, as he was leaving a house on his way to the apartment where
the hostages had been held.
After questioning the two suspects, who admitted to their roles in the
kidnapping, police determined that they had secured the women with duct
tape in the apartment and held them at gunpoint.
As the two were being questioned, a third suspect,
Anton Nati Petrokov, was arrested in Bat Yam with his girlfriend.
Inside Petrokov’s apartment, police found the two stolen computers and
the Chinese egg, along with two packed suitcases, which police said
contained clothes for Petrokov and his girlfriend, who were planning to
fly to an undisclosed European location.
“This was a fairly complicated police operation,” Rosenfeld said. “All
in all it took police 48 hours from the time they received word of the
possible kidnapping on April 12, to the time the women were freed and
the suspects arrested.”
On Sunday, all of the suspects had their remands extended in Jerusalem
District Court for 10 days. In addition to kidnapping, the suspects are
being charged with robbery and attempted murder. Police expect to make
additional arrests in the case.