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Be warned: Tricks criminal gangs in Nairobi are using to steal from matatu users

News
 Commuter matatus in Nairobi

A criminal gang said to be working in cahoots with matatu crews is on the prowl on major routes in the city, targeting unsuspecting passengers.

According to some of the victims, the gang colludes with the driver and touts in the matatus they operate in to ensure no alarm is raised during the heist.

The robberies, they say, always turn violent once they are discovered and as they forcibly push the victims out of the car or physically fight them.

“It’s a well-choreographed, growing trend as I have heard similar cases. They pick your phone and then tell you that it fell so that you alight. They then take off,” said Alex Vonce, a recent victim.

A specific matatu, KAT 091A, belonging to TSTL Sacco, without a clear operation route has been mentioned largely by most of the victims. The gang usually position themselves strategically in the vehicle. Most of those who have fallen victim are usually seated in the front seat next to the door. So while the one seated behind you engages you in trying to close the door ‘properly’, the other one seated next to you steals from you.

The matatus are said to keep changing routes, often plying Mombasa road, Thika Superhighway, Eastern Bypass and Mbagathi road. A public service vehicle inspector pointed out that the vehicle, KAT 091A, had an expired motor inspection sticker and no road service licence, indicating that it is operating illegally.

“NTSA: KAT 091A, Inspection VC number: f620337, expiry date: 21-APR-17,” he said.

Door trick

On the 19, August, 1.48pm Nickson Zachary boarded the matatu outside Jonathan Gloag Academy on Mbagathi Road and took the front seat next to the driver. The passenger right behind him told him the door was not secured properly.

“As I fumbled with the door, I heard a passenger from behind shout that my laptop had been stolen. Checking, my bag had been unzipped and the laptop was missing,” said Zachary.

Zachary said he confronted the person seated next to him and insisted that he gives back his laptop.

“He became furious and violent. Other passengers supported him and turned against me. I didn’t care and continued pushing him well aware that no one had alighted,” he said.

However after much pushing, Zachary said the suspect flashed a gun at him. He decided to alight at Kenyatta Market even though he was going to city centre.

“The matatu is mostly seen around Mbagathi Road and Nairobi West. Both the driver and the tout were not bothered, neither did they try to intervene,” said Zachary.

Lost phone

Zachary reported the matter to Kilimani Police Station and OB number 3119082017 and is yet to receive a report on the progress of the case. But Zachary is only one of the many victims who have fallen prey of the ‘unclosing door’ matatu trick.

Mary Mary, (pseudo name) says she boarded an Embassava vehicle at Belle Vue along Mombasa Road.

“The tout directed me to a seat in front next to the driver. I closed the door as the vehicle left bus station,” she said.

“The guy seated behind me warned that the door was not closing properly and reached to open it. He then asks that I help him close it,” she continued.

The door was proving difficult as they neared Furniture Palace. A passenger seated at the back told her that her phone had fallen.

“The driver immediately stopped the matatu just before Eka Hotel where I alighted to pick the ‘dropped’ phone. The matatu then took off,” she explained.

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