‘Fake cops’ in Nakuru rob bank customers

By MERCY KAHENDA

NAKURU; KENYA: There is growing concern in Nakuru County that some police officers might be involved in a string of serious crimes.

“We expect them to uphold and enforce the law,” says a livestock trader, who recently lost Sh430,000 to four men in police uniform in Nakuru town. “But it seems they are the ones breaking the law and condoning lawlessness.”

The men, armed with AK47 rifles, identified themselves as policemen, cocked their guns and arrested the trader saying he was a most wanted criminal, at a busy bus stage last Wednesday. The victim, who asked not to be named, had just withdrawn the money at Co-operative Bank, Kenyatta Avenue. He says it was the first time in his 25 years of business that such an incident happened.

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Narrating his ordeal to The Standard on Saturday, the trader said the ‘officers’ arrived in an unmarked vehicle at the Solai matatu stage near Jamia Mosque in Nakuru town, ready to open fire at him. The men did not show any identification but their communication with others through telephone convinced him they were rogue police officers.

Reporting the matter later at Central Police Station, the trader said he usually uses the bank’s executive lobby because he transacts huge amounts of cash. But on the fateful day, he says, the lobby was full with clients. Since he was in a hurry to travel to Rumuruti in Laikipia County, he decided to queue with other clients to be served over the counter. He withdrew Sh453,000, left the bank for the Solai matatu terminus and boarded a vehicle.

“I had a severe headache and before the car drove off, I decided to alight and purchase Panadol and water,” narrated the victim.

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Immediately he picked a bottle of water from a water vendor, two men arrived at the stage, one in a regular police uniform and the other in  Administration Police uniform. Both were armed with pistols and handcuffs.

“Immediately they declared to the public that I was a wanted criminal and they proceeded to handcuff me,” he said. They claimed they had been tracking a suspected robber in possession of a gun used to commit criminal activities, he said. He says he tried to resist arrest but the ‘officers’ kept threatening to shoot him so he surrendered.

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“Everyone at the stage ran away except some women traders who stayed to guard their wares,” he said.

The men bundled him in a saloon car with two people in civilian clothes and drove off. He was informed that they were taking him to Criminal Investigation Department office in Nakuru. To his surprise, he was ordered to lie down as they drove to an unknown destination.

The gangsters asked him if he had withdrawn any cash from the bank, how much it was and how much was left in his account.  “The thugs intimidated and threatened to shoot me if I could not give them the information they were asking. Since life is precious, I obeyed,” he added.

Blindfolded

The trader said the gang took all the money in his pockets, an ATM card, Safari boots shoes valued Sh2,900, a Samsung S3 valued at Sh45,000, a belt of Sh1,000 and woolen cap of Sh100 and speedily drove to a bush in Soysambu ranch, on the Nakuru-Naivasha road. As they went, the trader said the ‘officers’ kept communicating on their walkie talkie and at some point heard one being informed that ‘Naivasha had been cleared’.

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He said they then blindfolded him and tied him using his shirt and dumped him at a thicket in the Soysambu ranch.

“They tied me in a such a way that I could free myself without difficulty which I did after about 15 minutes,” he said. He rushed to Nakuru where he blocked his bank account and reported the incident to Nakuru Central Police station.

Nakuru OCPD Bernard Kioko said they had arrested one person. The victim was on July 21 summoned to the police station where an identification parade was organised and the trader identified one person. The suspect is yet to be arraigned in court.

In the same week, Mr Kiprop Chemase, a teacher at a secondary school in Mogotio, was confronted by two armed men in police uniforms moments after he had withdrawn Sh50,000 from Cooperative Bank near Kenya Farmers Association roundabout.

Chemase’s script was the same as the first victim. He was driven towards Njoro and abandoned near the Rift Valley Technology Institute farm.

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And in a similar incident, a taxi operator also fell victim to carjackers after picking two ‘policemen’ from a local police station to allegedly arrest a suspect in Kiamunyeki estate. According to the taxi driver, who wanted to be identified only as Kariuki, a woman in her mid-30s approached her at a parking bay outside a restaurant along Oginga Odinga Street.

“It was around 7.30pm when the lady came straight to where I was waiting for passengers and told me she wanted to pick police officers at Central Police Station to go and arrest a person who had swindled her,” said Kariuki. According to the taxi driver, the woman “looked innocent” and he did not suspect anything.

Kariuki said the woman’s story was compelling since she narrated her agony of searching for a man who owed her Sh100,000 and could not be traced in his house during the day. The two drove to Central Police Station and the lady went straight to the report desk, as he waited for them in the car.

“She emerged from the station with two men dressed in jackets,” recalled Kariuki, adding that they “resembled police officers with their hair cut and tough talk”. But on making a turn off at Kiondo trading centre along the Nairobi-Nakuru highway, one of the ‘policemen’ who was seated behind the driver’s seat, grabbed him and the woman covered his head with clothing she was carrying.

“My vehicle screeched to a halt and I was bundled outside with my hands and legs tied,” he said. The vehicle has not been recovered.

Nakuru OCPD Bernard Kioko said the incidents are being investigated but could not explain how criminals could be courageous to go to a police station and wait to be picked by an accomplice.

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Nakuru Kenya crime matatu police