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Police arrest 3 thugs posing as matatu operators

Robbing passengers in a matatu has become a popular scheme by criminals in Nairobi

File photo of passegers inside a public service vehicle

Police officers arrested three robbery suspects who had used a matatu to lure in passengers before proceeding to rob them of their valuables.

The arrest was conducted at 2:00 a.m. on Thursday after police officers on patrol intercepted the vehicle and 11 phones were recovered.

According to a statement from the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI), the three suspects were identified as 38-year-old Vincent Obongo, 22-year-old Edward Kimani, and 27-year-old Mohamed Idi Ndote.

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In a crime that is gaining currency in the city, the crew posing as genuine matatu operators, sneak out PSV vehicles taken to garages for repairs and use them to illegally ferry passengers at night, before robbing them of their valuables,” the statement read in part.

The matatus operating late into the night are commonly referred to as ‘usiku sacco’ and comprise unroadworthy vehicles, most of which operate without the required documentation.

The DCI has urged members of the public to be on the lookout for such vehicles, especially those ferrying passengers to routes different from those indicated on the vehicle’s body.

Meanwhile, detectives based at DCI Lang'ata contacted the owners of the phones recovered from the suspects.

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The victims were asked to record their statements as the police prepared to arraign the suspects in court.

The gang operates in groups of three, according to Lang'ata Police Chief Benjamin Mwanthi, with the mechanic acting as the driver and the other two as conductor and passenger.

The one posing as the passenger occupies the seat next to the driver, his role is to distract the victim and steal while the conductor's task is to call for passengers and lie about the destination,” said Mwanthi.

One of the victims of the incident narrated that he boarded the matatu and sat on the passenger seat in the driver's cockpit.

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It was heading to Rongai and the fare was Sh50, so I hopped in and sat next to the passenger door in the driver’s cockpit. Before I could settle in, I was asked to forcefully close the door using both hands to avoid falling out.

They claimed that something had fallen out of the vehicle, and it looked like a phone. True to their words, my pockets were empty. I alighted to check whether my phone had fallen and that’s when the matatu sped off. I reported the matter to some officers who were on patrol on the same route and they informed me that they were on the lookout for the gang,” he said.

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