NAIROBI, Kenya Mar 31 – The money which had been stolen Friday while on transit to Garissa from Nairobi was recovered on Friday evening at Ndarugo area within Mang’u, off the Thika superhighway.
The money totaling Sh36.4 million was being transported by security firm Wells Fargo and was diverted by Administration Police officers who abandoned the van carrying it and fled after failing to access the cash box.
“It has been a long day, we have spent hours looking for this money and these vehicles, but as you can see we have finally recovered the whole amount,” Thika OCPD Paul Leting told journalists at the scene.
The money in a blue cash box that was locked with two padlocks was found abandoned less than 500 metres from the Thika superhighway, in one of the major security operations conducted in the country lately.
Police said it took them more time to get the money because a tracking devise installed on the Cash in Transit vehicle kept misdirecting them.
“It sent several signals, including that it was somewhere in Naivasha but finally it relayed a proper signal and that is why we have found the money,” Leting said
The second vehicle, a chase car was found abandoned at Bendoh estate in Thika town where one security officer was found handcuffed and locked up inside.
“The other three crew members were abandoned in a Juja farm,” he said.
A police officer who was among the first detectives to arrive at the scene said the crew members had their eyes sealed with a masking tape.
“They had been beaten up but none of them had life-threatening injuries. They are okay, although they have alleged that they were beaten up,” Leting said.
On interrogation, the Wells Fargo crew members told police they picked up the money from their offices on Mombasa road in the morning and set off for the journey to Garissa.
“However, one of the AP officers on the way said he wanted to pick a letter at Juja and when they stopped, a black vehicle stopped next to them with six people on board and that is when one of them jumped and took control of the vehicle carrying the cash, the other ones entered the other vehicle and sped off to Thika where they abandoned a crew member and fled,” he said.
“We are still interrogating them to help us find the six AP’s,” Leting said.
Police said they were treating them as witnesses “unless there is any development to change this in the course of the investigation.”
Wells Fargo General Manager Patrick Mururo told Capital News “we are grateful for the work the police has done for them to have recovered all this money.”
He said the money belonged to Equity and was being transported to Garissa.
Equity’s head of security operations Maj Marcus Mutua on his part sought to clarify that “it should be understood clearly that no money has been stolen from Equity bank.”
“These money was being transported by Wells Fargo to our branch in Garissa,” Maj Mutua told reporters at the Equity Bank, Thika branch where the money was counted and verified.
Police said they were investigating reports that the people said to have been AP’s may not actually be genuine officers because all officers deployed on escort duties from Nairobi had been accounted for.
They said they were also investigating to establish if all proper procedures were followed handling the money from the bank and to the security firm which is reported to have collected it and kept it overnight for onward transportation to Garissa.
Administration Police officers on escort duties are usually picked up from their Embakasi base early in the morning and their force numbers must be recorded where they are picked and when they are assigned to escort money or any other goods.
“These are some of the issues we are investigating, we will be talking to a number of people both at the security firm and in the bank,” one senior officer involved in the investigation said.
No prime suspect had been arrested by Friday evening police said they were still interrogating the Wells Fargo crew at the Thika Police station where they were likely to spend the night.