City motorists beware. Sophisticated gangs are preying the parking lots in search of your cash.
They hide and use beautiful women as decoys as they break into your car in broad daylight. Speed and expensive clothes and luxurious cars are their stock in trade used to disarm angry victims should they be caught in the act.
Armed with screw drivers, the smartly dressed men riding in luxurious vehicles in company of elegant women are driving city motorists into financial ruin by ambushing them as soon as they withdraw substantial amounts of money from banks.
The gangsters, who are referred to as Mahu in the criminal world, spy on bank customers in banking halls and work in cahoots with some tellers who tip them whenever someone withdraws substantial amount of money.
Our investigation shows that the gangs use a screw driver that is modified into a T-shaped tool to open the doors of cars without raising an alarm.
Zoned the city
Our sources said that the culprits have fashioned their criminal enterprise to mirror the working schedule of banks, which are their main source of money.
“From our investigation, these gangs have zoned the city into spheres of interest to avoid conflict and possible gangland wars. They have formed groups which operate in Utawala, Kasarani, Thika Road, Mombasa Road, Ngong Road and Karen,” said Steve Odero, a private investigator.
Mr Odero, who is also the vice chairman of Independent Private Investigators Association of Kenya, added that the culprits operate in areas that do not have traffic jams.
The gangs work with bank tellers who use phones with unregistered SIM card lines to tip them whenever a customers withdraws a lot of money, our investigation shows.
David Otieno told Sunday Standard how he lost Sh157,000 on February 15, moments after he withdrew it from a bank in Industrial Area, Nairobi.
He was accompanied by a friend and was served by an unfamiliar teller, who seemed to take his time.
“At one point, the teller picked his phone from the counter and excused himself, leaving me unattended to. After about five minutes, he came back and asked me whether I needed an envelope to stash the money,” Otieno recalled.
When he left the bank, he drove towards Uhuru Highway from Enterprise Road and ultimately parked at Bishop House near Capital Hill to pick a birth certificate for his daughter.
“I parked near the entrance. I had no reason to fear because there were two Administration Police officers at the parking lot. I took less than five minutes in the building but when I came back, I got the shock of my life,” said Otieno.
“The driver’s door had been tampered with and when I checked inside, I was horrified to find my cash missing. The APs were not very helpful. When I went to Capital Hill Police Station, the police never took my statement. They appeared too busy and I left frustrated,” Otieno added.
Later, he learnt that a friend lost Sh400,000 in a similar manner in January, shortly after withdrawing money from a bank in Buru Buru.
Investigations show that ordinarily, a gang comprises two men and one smartly dressed elegant woman.
Once they are tipped by the bank teller, they trail the target and park their top of the range car nearby. A man and a woman will emerge from the car and pretend to be in an animated talk, as they shield their partner in crime who breaks into their target’s car.
The operation takes less than three minutes before they drive away with the loot.
“They use multiple number plates to confuse witnesses in the event that they are spotted at a scene. They either use tapes to disguise the number plates, or supplant fake plates,” Odero says.
The gangsters, our investigations show, are making millions of shillings per month and they have formed welfare groups or chamas where members contribute to a kitty which is used to bail out a member in trouble.
Patience is the gangsters’ forte, for they can track a victim for hours before they tip another gang, called Kot Kot, whose speciality is shadowing targets, breaking into their houses and stealing cash and electronic goods.
Unlike their counterparts who operate in banks, these criminals are armed and brutalise victims who resist their overtures.
“Once they are tipped of a target who has taken huge amounts of withdrawn cash into their houses, the robbers will drive there and let the woman knock at the gate. Once allowed past the gate, the female gangster will insist on a handshake aimed at preventing the target from hastily closing the door or gate,” Odero added.
Last February, police in Nairobi announced that they had made a major breakthrough after they arrested four suspects, among them a woman whom they accused of conspiring with Tanzanians.
The four were linked to a spate of robberies in Dagoretti, Nairobi, and were accused of robbing a victim of a laptop, Sh30,000, $100, 600 Chinese Yen, and jewellery, among other valuables on March 23, 2018 at an apartment along Nyangumi Road.
According to court documents, when one of the accused was released on Sh1.2 million bond with a surety of Sh2.1 million, she fled the country. She is facing five other similar cases.
Last October, a city tycoon lost Sh15 million after a gang of four, including a woman, raided his home in Karen and demanded the money at gun point. They did not steal any other item.
Another gang of robbers, who in street lingo are referred to as Bongo Four, specialise in hanging around banking halls where they target customers who withdraw money and trail them by car and on foot.
“These gangsters are dangerous because they are armed. They operate in groups of four. Their spies hang around bank halls and watch as tellers serve customers,” said Odero. Once the target leaves the bank, the criminals masquerading as police officers pounce on them and usually have handcuffs.
Two weeks ago, Bongo Four members stunned law enforcers after they waylaid a policeman who was coming from court and robbed him of Sh200,000. Attempts to identify himself were laughed off by the gang who dismissed him as a fake.