On Wednesday last week, at 3.30pm, Mary (not her real name), a business woman in Nakuru, had closed her shop at White House area and started the walk to Vineyard on the busy Nakuru-Nyahururu road to take a matatu home.
At Kiti area, a car that was heading to Bahati pulled up beside her and one of the occupants asked her directions to a nearby church.
Before she could respond, she was dragged into the car, which sped towards Bahati. She had been kidnapped.
Her assailants threatened to kill her. They withdrew all her money, through her phone, and her ATM card, and then abandoned her in Bahati Forest. They also borrowed money using her phone from various digital lending platforms including Fuliza and M-Shwari.
She reported the matter to Bahati Police station and investigations are under way.
Money, pistol stolen
In another incident, police in Gilgil are still pursuing a gang that broke into a vehicle belonging to a chief inspector of police and stole more than Sh1 million and a Ceska pistol on Monday.
Gilgil police commander John Onditi said officers are following crucial leads and are in possession of crucial data.
The robbers, who had a vehicle with fake number plates, discarded the plates on the Naivasha-Gilgil road.
“It seems they were trailing the senior police officer and struck when he walked into a hotel for lunch. We believe that the suspects had prior information about the impending huge withdrawal … but we have crucial leads that will lead to their arrest,” Mr Onditi told the Nation.
The Anti-Theft Stock Unit police inspector had just withdrawn the money from the bank.
The gang members used a special key to unlock the double cabin pick-up vehicle parked outside the hotel where the officer was having lunch.
These are just examples of the increasing crime incidents in Nakuru, which have left residents living in fear.
In the town, major streets are teeming with phone snatchers. Kenyatta Avenue, Moi Road, Oginga Odinga, Nehru Pundit, the Kingdom Seekers stretch and areas around Kanu House and Gate House are the playground of the robbers, who snatch handbags, phones and any other valuables from people in broad daylight.
Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) detectives early in February busted a notorious phone theft ring in Kaptembwo slum and arrested three suspects. They also found 294 mobile phones.
County Criminal Investigations Officer Anthony Sunguti revealed that officers started the operation after receiving numerous complaints from the public of phones being snatched on streets.
Police in Nakuru are now grappling with a wave of crime, which, the Nation has learnt, is perpetrated by gangs of young criminals, as well as other well-connected criminals with tentacles in other towns, including Nairobi.
The gangs have become a headache among security agencies, with the problem worse, especially in slums such as Kivumbini, Lake View, Kwa Rhoda, Kaptembwa, Flamingo, Kaloleni and Bondeni.
So far, investigations by the Nation have revealed that about four gangs, whose members are aged between 15 and 30 years, are roaming in Nakuru.
The gangs include; Confirm, Gaza, Dragon and new ones like Eastlando and Msafi Kwanza, which terrorise residents in various estates.
Police in Nakuru arrested two suspects and seized an assortment of military uniforms and other accessories from a home in Mwariki estate, on Saturday.
The two suspects, aboard a motorcycle, stopped plain-clothes police officers who were patrolling Mwariki on foot, before they were arrested.
According to the Nakuru East Sub-County Police Commander Elena Kabukuru, the suspects failed to produce identification documents, leading to their arrest.
"The two were arrested in Nakuru town with a police jacket and handcuffs, impersonating police officers. When we interrogated them, they led us to a private residence in Mwariki Estate where we found an assortment of military items including uniforms, military boots, handcuffs, smoke jackets and berets," said Ms Kabukuru.
The two suspects claimed they were from a Nakuru Police station, but could not produce proof of that. Investigations revealed they had been posing as police. They are aged 17 and 26. They also revealed the identity of a third person with whom they have been extorting money from residents.
It is in the house of the third suspect that the military uniforms were seized.
The case has raised questions on how they acquired the military uniforms.
Ms Kabukuru Sunday revealed that the three are part of a bigger criminal gang that has been terrorising residents.
Spread in all slums
The Confirm gang, listed on December 2016 by former Interior Cabinet Secretary Joseph Nkaissery as one of the more than 90 outlawed gangs operating in Kenya, has operated in Nakuru for years. It has tentacles spread in all the slums and has been terrorising residents and swindling them by obtaining money fraudulently through mobile money transfer services, and carrying out muggings and robberies.
A senior detective revealed that officers have increased patrols in various parts of Nakuru town believed to be hideouts of the gang, with the aim of weeding out the criminals.
"Detectives from the Directorate of Criminal Investigations are leading the war against the criminals and other re-emerging gangs. We are still pursuing more of the criminals. We will not rest until all members of the gang are brought to book," said the source.
Residents say the dreaded Confirm gang enjoys the protection of some local politicians.
The gang, made up of idle, unemployed youths from the slums, is usually armed with pangas, metal rods, swords and sometimes guns, according to police sources.
Despite regular swoops and arrests of members of the group, it has kept on resurfacing.
However, County Commissioner Erastus Mbui has warned that security agents will intensify their hunt on members of the outfit and other gangs to wipe them out of Nakuru.
"We have kicked off a major operation to weed out all the criminals. We will not tolerate resurgence of any criminal gang. Those involved will face the full force of law. We will deal with criminal elements ruthlessly. I urge residents to be candid and report any criminals, to help police arrest them.”
"We have already arrested several members of outlawed groupings in Nakuru County, in the past weeks. They have already been charged in court, and this will continue until we wipe them out of Nakuru," added the administrator.