Carjackings agonise Kenyan police

May 25, 2010 12:00 am

, NAIROBI, Kenya, May 25 – Police in Nairobi now say they are faced with a major challenge of dealing with modern-day carjackers who are “too sophisticated and armed to the teeth.”

The new breed of criminals threatening the city’s security have been described by the police as “young, intelligent and eloquent speakers but too dangerous”, especially when they get hold of a victim.

“They are trigger-happy at the slightest provocation and are ready to go to greater lengths to get what they want,” one police officer involved in tracking down the criminals said.

Police investigations have revealed that the gangsters are the same ones who caused fear and panic in the Kenyan capital towards the end of last year when the highest number of kidnappings were reported but have now resorted to carjackings.

“It is true the number of carjacking in Nairobi is on the increase and kidnappings have reduced,” Nairobi Provincial Police chief Antony Kibuchi said and attributed the reduction of kidnapping to new mobile phone tracking gadgets the police acquired recently.

The devices have the capacity to trace mobile phones and pinpoint their location once an incident has been reported, as opposed to when the police relied on the support of mobile phone companies to trace users.

“This is a remarkable success for us.  With the use of these gadgets we are succeeding to trace victims and get the kidnappers within the shortest time possible,” Mr Kibuchi added.

He said his officers had managed to profile some criminals who are still at large and who have been blamed for the recent spate of carjackings in town.

“These fellows are dangerous, they are armed and usually threaten their victims, but there are those who use toy pistols and fake rifles but both of them are dangerous,” he added.

He said police were reviewing their strategies of fighting the wave of crime because the “new breed of criminals is using new techniques to get their target”.

“City residents should not get worried because we are on high alert, we just need cooperation from members of the public, with that kind of help I am sure we will succeed to keep this city safe,” the police boss said and showed journalists some of the firearms and fake ones recovered from gangsters in the last one week.

During the Tuesday meeting with journalists, Mr Kibuchi unveiled new telephone numbers that city residents should keep in their mobile phones to help them during emergency situations.

He said the 999 and 112 emergency lines are still in use but additional numbers had been listed.

They include 020-2724154 and 020-3556771 which go directly to the Control Room or reach the duty officer Nairobi area on 020-3556780 and 020-310225.

“We need the public’s assistance; whenever one witnesses an incident or has anything to report, he or she should reach us on those numbers, we will act as soon as possible,” he said.

Mr Kibuchi is also advising residents to avoid arguing with kidnappers or carjackers to avoid provoking them.

Statistics available at police headquarters shows that law enforcers have been recording up to five carjacking per day, particularly on Thursdays, Fridays and weekends.

Prominent personalities including Members of Parliament and top businessmen are also a target of the new breed of criminals in town.

The latest such victim was Bonchari Member of Parliament Charles Onyancha who was carjacked in Nairobi’s South B estate on Sunday night and robbed of his vehicle, a pistol, cash and other belongings including mobile phones.

Mr Kibuchi told reporters the MP’s four-wheel drive vehicle had not been recovered by Tuesday.

“We hope to recover it because the vehicle is fitted with tracking devices.  We are also looking for those gangsters,” he said.

The incident comes barely three days after the driver of Nakuru Town MP Lee Kinyanjui was carjacked in Muthaiga and the official vehicle he was driving used to block several motorists in town.

Early last month, the driver of Local Government assistant minister Lewis Nguyai was shot dead by gangsters who waylaid him just after dropping his boss.

The incident occurred near the driver’s home in King\’eero, Kikuyu.


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