Thieves target coffee in farms

Cartels in coffee theft have quit stealing harvested beans and are now going for the same in farms. 

Investigations by The Standard found that several incidences had been reported in Mathioya and Kandara.

The menace has spurred farmers into forming vigilante groups to guard farms at night.

Previously, the cartels would sneak into poorly guarded factories and steal sacks of the commodity.

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But now, after factory managers resorted to tough security measures, farms have become the new playgrounds for the cartels.

Moses Kamau recently had an experience with one of his relatives who is connected to the cartels.

His nephew Nduguti Mwangi sneaked into Kamau's farm at night and began to harvest ripe cherries.

His uncle and other villagers ambushed and beat him, but his identity was not immediately known, as he escaped. In the morning, they tracked the blood stains to Mwangi's house, where they found him writhing in pain. He was taken to hospital and later grilled at Kiria-ini police station.

Murang’a County Commissioner John Elung'ata said police were aware that criminals had started targeting coffee farms.

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“We have managed to arrest some of the thieves behind the crimes. We are also continuing with investigations targeting alleged cartels which are backing individual thieves," said Mr Elunguta.

In a security meeting at Kabati market last week, coffee theft at farm and estates featured, with residents saying the criminals were known.

In the past, cartels raided top level factories affiliated to Weithaga, Kamacharia and Kangiri farmers’ cooperative societies.

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