, NAIROBI, Kenya, Aug 16 – They operate from one hotel to another, leaving a trail of pain and agony. A tale of smartly dressed thugs who operate smoothly but with certainty.
Their modus operandi is easily traceable, but with a little laxity, they strike with exactness that will leave their prey with less of their belongings and in some cases, they will carry everything.
The fraudsters, as established by detectives have been spending “money to get more money” with some city hotels being their ‘safe havens’.
The ground is more fertile in established hotels within Nairobi Central Business District, where until a while ago, detectives say CCTV cameras were part of the decoration in the facilities while security personnel added little or no value to rescue the worrying situation.
“Our investigations have established that most of the CCTVs cameras in these hotels are not monitored at all. They are just there. A sad fact that the criminals have discovered this,” a detective involved in the probe told Capital FM News.
The probe was necessitated after several complaints from people who had fallen victims and numerous reports from hotels.
Among the victims is a man of the cloth from South Africa, who found his room ransacked.
The thugs, according to police had booked a room adjacent to that of the bishop and broke into it while he was away.
They used master keys to open the door to his room and made away with all his personal belongings.
One suspect has since been arrested.
“Some of these cases look like an inside job,” the detective told Capital FM News.
Just over the weekend, two laptops worth more than Sh200,000 were stolen from another hotel, still within the CBD.
Central Police boss Robinson Thuku said the thugs, in this case, joined unsuspecting tourists.
Currently, he says detectives at the Central Police Station are investigating three cases, all from different hotels over a span of one month.
“In one case, we have made an arrest,” he revealed. “We are going to get these criminals and arraign them in court.”
Though the cases have rampant lately, he says it is not a new trend.
“It is the duty of the hotel security teams to monitor the movement of those strangers who are pretending to be there for breakfast, lunch or dinner. They should monitor them using the CCTV cameras,” he said.
An incident last month saw a tourist lose a bag with valuables and money. And though it was later recovered, the cash in dollars had been stolen.
In another incident, two other laptops belonging to tourists were stolen but were later recovered in Zimmerman estate, within Nairobi.
“The challenge we have is that the owners did not want the suspects sued since they will be leaving. They were happy with the recovery,” the Central Police Station boss said.
During conferences, police caution that such characters will always strike during health breaks.
“It is more conducive for them since everyone is either eating something or exchanging ideas. A lone bag, a laptop will not be spared,” he cautioned.
On August 11, detectives arrested four suspects for the offence of stealing laptops from unsuspecting people who attend meetings in various hotels.
Fifteen laptops were recovered from the suspects.
The latest incidents, as ‘petty’ as they may seem have awakened the awful memories when a terror suspect, early this year, booked a room within a hotel opposite the Central Police Station to plan and coordinate what would have become the deadliest attack in Nairobi and the region.
Miles away in Isiolo, other terror suspects were planning how a vehicle packed with explosives would be brought to the city.
The explosives had the capacity to kill people and bring down buildings within a radius of 250 metres.
If the Vehicle Borne Improvised Explosive Device (VBIED) was not detected, Inspector General of Police Joseph Boinnet said “the consequences would have been very severe. This vehicle was to be used to stage a major terrorist attack in the city.”
“They were targeting a government building and judicial building at the time some proceedings were going on, probably, for the purpose of rescuing some of the people we are processing for terror offences.”
Whether in a kiosk or a five-star hotel, police insists that you must be alert.