- The main suspects in the Sh50 million heist at Kenya Commercial Bank (KCB) in Thika town loved tea and samosas worth Sh50.
- The theft which was carried out without arousing suspicions for three months has left the public astonished, and the bank and police embarrassed.
Detectives who spoke to The Nairobian said they had eased their leash on bank robberies which had dissipated and focused their attention on financial cyber crime which has been costing local banks hundreds of millions of shillings from ‘keyboard bank robbers.’
The Thika suspects were said to have liked simple meals and rarely talked while eating as they maintained a coy demeanour, fooling everybody, including cops stationed nearby.
The criminals, described as young and of slight built, preferred a particular eatery a few metres from their bookshop stall. In the morning, they would ordered tea and samosas that cost Sh50 for each serving.
At lunch time, one of them fancied a meal of ugali with sukuma wiki, while the accomplice preferred rice with beef stew.
A waiter at a restaurant adjacent to Thika City Friendly building from where the shy looking men carried out their clandestine mission for three months undetected while disguising themselves as genuine stationery traders, told The Nairobian they were regular customers.
Despite their love for fashion with a taste for trendy casual wear, the men had minimal interaction with those around them, according to the waiter.
Win a Quarter A Million by joining The SDE RACE! https://www.sde.co.ke/therace/
Despite the smallness of their bodies, the men were seemingly energetic enough to drill a 20-foot tunnel, which they used to land their hands on the millions, estimated to be more than Sh60 million, though bank management puts the figure at Sh50 million.
There appears to have been a well-planned ‘business project’ for which the criminals had invested time and dough.
It was not immediately clear whether the suspects who gave the landlord fake national ID cards matching different persons, had signed any tenancy agreements, but they had paid rent for six months, deposit included. A stall goes for between Sh8,000 and Sh10,000 a month.
For the three stalls, they parted with more than Sh200,000 to their landlord at Thika City Friendly Stalls where the suspects operated a bookshop as a front.
The stalls they had rented are directly opposite the Thika Police Divisional Headquarters. Regular and investigating officers working at the station failed to detect the plan unfolding right under their noses.
The waiter said his clients would usually wave, signaling him to take the bill after clearing their meals before quietly walking out.
“During breakfast, they took tea and samosas. At lunchtime, one preferred ugali and sukuma while the other ate rice and beef. They were not talkative and not very friendly either,” said the waiter while giving a sneak peek into the lifestyle of the cunning, but patient criminals.
By 8am, the duo would be through with their breakfast, then work late up to 8pm when either a gray Subaru Forester KBZ or a white G-Touring a KBK carrying empty cartoons, would arrive at the bookshop.
Traders remember, unsuspectingly, see stashed cartons being loaded into the waiting Subaru or G-Touring. According to the traders, the two worked in cahoots with other people. It dawned on them that it was soil that was being shipped out of the bookshop.
“We are very shocked since none of us here ever suspected anything. The empty cartons, it has now emerged, were being used by the suspects to carry the soil from the tunnel,” said one trader.
Fellow traders thought the contents in the cartons were books for supply to clients. Not even the frequent commotion from the four stalls the thieves had rented attracted their curiosity that something could be amiss.
It is suspected the tunnel was drilled at night. Traders recall always spotting the Subaru parked outside at around 6.30am. It would then be driven towards Nairobi.