The Venezuelan Public Ministry reported Thursday that nine members of the municipal police in the Caracas municipality of Chacao were arrested for dividing among themselves the booty they had seized from a group of thieves who robbed two jewelry stores in the capital.

The investigations department of the Chacao police on Wednesday filed a complaint with the Attorney General's Office saying that "the police officers charged with guarding the site where the robbery of two jewelry stores occurred appropriated the physical evidence abandoned" by the thieves, according to a statement released by the ministry.

"It is important to mention that the police officers may have violated the (procedural manual for chain of custody and physical evidence)," the AG's office said.

The Public Ministry said that on Tuesday night several men entered a mall in eastern Caracas and waited until it closed, whereupon they subdued one of the security guards there.

After opening the doors to two jewelry stores and taking a "large quantity of (merchandise)," the alleged thieves noticed that "two Venezuelans, two Russians and four Belarusians" were still inside the mall and took them hostage.

At that time, Chacao police officers showed up on the scene and, after an exchange of gunfire, the thieves fled and the officers pursued them into the western part of the capital, where one of the thieves was killed and the others presumably escaped.

Later, authorities learned that the police officers had divided among themselves the items stolen by the gang and arrested them. EFE