Four suspects have been arrested and cars recovered after police smashed a theft syndicate involving criminals in Trans Nzoia and Bungoma counties.
The four were caught dismantling a Nissan matatu belonging to Trans-Nzoia West Sacco in Lukhuna village, Bungoma County, after it was stolen from Kitale town on Wednesday.
It was a dramatic arrest as police smoked out one suspect believed to be the gang leader, from a hole inside a sugar cane plantation.
Detectives from the Department of Criminal Investigation (DCI) backed by residents spent more than eight hours in search of the suspect before he was found hiding inside the hole.
The suspect had been arrested last week but escaped from police custody under mysterious circumstances.
Those arrested include a mechanic reportedly specialised in dismantling and assembling of stolen motor vehicles.
Kitale OCPD Jackson Mwenga said they are determined to weed out the vice which has become rampant in the area.
Mwenga urged PSV operators to install tracking devices on their vehicles to help in case of theft.
“We have smashed the theft ring and we are asking PSV operators to ensure safety devices are installed on their vehicle to help during tracking,” said Mwenga.
Philip Wasike, the matatu driver, recalled how he had parked the vehicle outside the owner’s homestead before it was stolen on the fateful day.
“I had just parked the vehicle and was shocked that it was missing when I arrived in the morning. I have the key and I don’t know how they drove it away,” Wasike said.
Daniel Kibet, a PSV operator and member of EZK sacco, said his vehicle was parked at a petrol station in Kachibora when it was stolen.
Kibet told Saturday Standard that the driver had gone to a nearby shop to buy some items after the day’s work when he was alerted by a friend that he had spotted a strange driving the vehicle towards Kitale town.
“We used tracking device to trace the car and the police intercepted it along Kitale-Webuye road,” said Kibet.
During the recovery, one suspect said to be the ring leader of the syndicate, was arrested but went missing in police custody.
Wilson Boit an official with EZK sacco said they have lost four vehicles to the gang. Three were recovered.