How a call from stolen phone led police to Murang'a robbery suspect

phones

Crime busters traced a mobile phone signal from a gadget stolen.

Photo credit: File

Julius Kamande Muchoki would have succeeded in stealing 50 brand new smart phones and airtime cards worth Sh55,000 had he not succumbed to the 'naivety' of using one of the phones for his personal use.

The phones were valued at Sh230,000.

He had been suspected of violently robbing a trader of the goods on April 23 in Maragua, Murang'a County.

The complainant furnished the officers with a stock card that contained the IMEI numbers of the stolen phones as well as serial numbers of the credit cards and 100 Sim Cards.

The suspect had remained unknown, unsuspected and off police radar for nearly one month, only to 'donate' himself on Thursday to Murang'a South sleuths when he made the technological blunder of powering one of the phones and fitting it with his Sim card, before proceeding to contact an electronics goods seller in Thika Town.

According to Murang'a South Police boss Alexander Shikondi, the officers on the case had hit a dead end in cracking the case.

"This was until 11am last Thursday when one of the stolen smart phones' IMEI became active on our monitoring screens. It reported that it had been fitted with a Safaricom Sim Card and loaded with Sh100 credit. We immediately liased with Communications Authority to trace the gadget. We then dispatched a team that used location coordinates to nab the suspect in Kabati town," he said.

Mr Shikondi said the suspect had contacted a dealer who was to receive the loot.

"But we pounced on him...picked him like how farmers pick coffee berries during harvest... with the packed loot and he is now being held as he is processed to appear in court on Monday," he said.

Mr Shikondi said detectives will pray the court to grant them more time to investigate the suspect since he fits eye witness description in about 12 robbery with violence incidents in Murang'a South.

"He is also a jailbird who has in the past 10 years been in and out of jail and how he gets released has been a matter of grave concern to us as enforcement team," Mr Shikondi said.

He said regional Security Committee has been exerting pressure that the gang be dealt with.

For the past one month, businesses in Maragua town have been robbed, residents attacked even as distress messages jammed the security hotlines complaining that the thugs operated from area criminal bars, substance and illicit brew dens as well as in commercial sex workers’ safe houses.

Last Saturday, five thugs riding on a motorcycle plucked out a woman from another speeding bodaboda as she took money to a nearby bank, where she fell on hard tarmac and is hospitalised in critical condition. The gang took off with her cash.

In the past one month, the gangs have publicly fired gunshots three times—including one incident that occurred 50 metres from the gates of Maragua Police station—and on last Sunday when two Murang’a based journalists were fired at twice near Equatorial company along Kenol-Murang'a road.

County Commissioner Karuku Ngumo said "we have taken note with the turn of events and we are exerting pressure both on our officers and the thugs."

County Police Commander Mr Ali Nuno said "I personally want to know how my officers relate with the problem expressed and what they are doing about it."

In a public baraza held in Maragua town on Tuesday, Murang’a South Deputy County Commissioner Mr Gitonga Murungi said his officers have the names and number plates involved in the criminal enterprise.

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