I recall a time when driving a white Japanese saloon car late at night amounted to a ‘VIP invite’ to carjackers to intercept you; bundle you in the trunk before traversing the city in search of other susceptible motorists in similar cars.
The villains would likely be pot-bellied and had spent the preceding hours at some pub devouring nyama choma and frothy booze (from the bottle).
If you encountered these fellows, they would abandon you after a few hours and chances were that your jalopy would never be found.
Fast forward to 2009… and the modus operandi has changed – radically.
If you drive a French, Swedish or German-made vehicle and live in one of the plush Nairobi suburbs, you’re more likely to fall victim to carjackers. The ruffians will come complete with ear studs, cologne, and modish attire – and they are more brutal.
With time, hoodlums have changed their way of doing business. But have our law enforcers adapted with similar ease? I dare say no!
Two years ago, I was a victim of a burglary. A gang managed to gain access to my house by cutting through the metal grills that we had ably mounted on the windows.
Luckily, we escaped unharmed but I had to procure a whole new set of electronics.
My house was not the first to have been burgled in that neighbourhood. But when the police officers came – after a few minutes, thanks to having my crime reporter on speed dial – they simply asked walipitia wapi? (Where did they pass). No one was interested in pursuing the suspects, taking a statement from me or carrying out any sort of investigation.
No fingerprints were taken and no attempt was made to establish where this gang had disappeared to with my belongings (I lived in a typical concrete estate at the time so the chaps must have been hiding on one of the other homes).
Several other households were burgled in subsequent months, and the intruders even had the nerve to make a return visit to my house (ostensibly to fetch the new stuff I had purchased). But I had taken preventive measures.
By then, I had invested in a higher perimeter wall and enlisted the services of an alarm response company. Given the impunity of the burglars, I was forced to erect an electric fence around the compound.
I know there are many out there who have gone through similar experiences – or even worse – and I empathise.
I was having a conversation with some colleagues the other day about the proposed merger of the regular police and Administration Police units. There was a radical suggestion that instead of talking about an amalgamation, we should in fact press for the disbandment of the regular police force and replace it with APs whose core business is not to take bribes and… yes, they basically get the job done.
The point is there needs to be far-reaching changes in the way law enforcers deal with crime. I’m no expert on security matters but those concerned should get cracking to give us value for our taxes.
And while at it, is the Criminal Investigations Department still operational?