Police bust Homa Bay criminal ring

Homa Bay DCI boss Abed Kavoo displays some of the household items recovered from criminal gangs on August 17,2022. The criminals break into homes to steal and later sell the items to business operators in South Nyanza.

Photo credit: George Odiwuor | Nation Media Group.

Police in Homa Bay have unmasked criminals behind a series of robberies reported over the past few months.

Detectives arrested some members of the gangs that have been terrorising residents and stealing from them. They also recovered some of the stolen items.

Several cases of robbery with violence, burglary and other crimes have been reported to police this year.

One was the murder last month of a fuel station attendant at Olare trading centre. The worker was hit by a blunt object by a man who had posed as a client.

The suspect and two accomplices were captured on CCTV cameras robbing the attendant as he lay unconscious on the ground.

Directorate of Criminal Investigations Commander Abed Kavoo said the Homa Bay Central Police Station used to receive up to four reports of robberies every day.

The items stolen tended to be similar.

"Victims reported their TVs, fridges and gas cylinders missing," Mr Kavoo said.

The police started an operation on Friday in Homa Bay, Migori and Kisumu counties. DCI officers arrested several suspects, who they said will help investigators pursue others who are in hiding.

One suspect was arrested in Migori and led DCI officers to other members of gangs in Kisii and Homa Bay.

By Wednesday evening, six suspects had been arrested and detained at the Homa Bay Police Station.

Two were buyers of stolen items, while the others were members of criminal groups.

Camouflage

Mr Kavoo said some of the suspects had adopted Islamic names to hide their real identity. Each group has someone who can drive a motorcycle, which they use to escape from crime scenes with stolen items.

"Some are people who are known by residents. Most of them do other duties during the day, including riding motorcycles, but turn to criminal activities at night," he said.

Preliminary investigations have established that the criminals have a ready market for the items they steal.

Some of their customers are bar owners who need large-screen television sets for their establishments.

"Generators, which are also items they like to steal, are sold and used as a backup power source," Mr Kavoo said.

In some cases, the criminals use guns and don police uniforms.

This gives them the courage to steal from anywhere. In one recent case, criminals stole a television set from the house of a DCI officer. The officer found the TV among items recovered in an operation.

Police want to establish where the criminals get the firearms and police uniforms.

The latest robbery involving guns happened during political campaigns. Rangwe parliamentary candidate Omburo Odaje was robbed of Sh1 million at his home by unidentified people armed with pistols.

Mr Kavoo urged business establishments to beef up security by installing CCTV cameras and hiring security guards.

"Some of the CCTV footage we have obtained has helped us identify the suspects. Members of the public should also be on the lookout for the criminals as some have helped to pursue the suspects," he said.

He also advised residents not to buy household items that they suspect were stolen.

"Some of the stolen electronics are sold at much cheaper prices. It should ring a bell in people's minds that the item they are about to buy has something sinister behind it," he said.

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