March 2018 was all about travel, road trips, holiday plans, empty office desks and closed businesses over the much-awaited Easter holiday. Now, some might recall the spike in crime that came about in the immediate aftermath of the last festive season, the December holidays, particularly in Nairobi. With criminal activity traditionally increasing over the holidays, one would not at all have been surprised had trends such as burglaries been noted in urban areas for instance. Criminals prefer to target homes that are unoccupied, so one’s vacation simply becomes their business opportunity.
This perhaps manifested itself differently this time, however, with the arrest of one of Nairobi’s most wanted, Lavender Akinyi, coming a day after the Easter break.
She was reported to be ringleader in a gang that was involved in burglaries in Kilimani, Lavington, Kileleshwa, Muthangari and Hurlingham. In addition to this, let’s take a look at other crime trends that we noted over the past month:
- Illicit Liquor/Drugs:
Did you know that there are more than twice as many licensed bars in Kiambu County than there were primary and secondary schools? These are some of the hard facts that the nation had to face when the government announced a nationwide crackdown on second-generation brew in the country. This led to the arrest of hundreds of suspects for offences ranging from producing and distributing illicit brew to operating bars without the requisite licences.
The crackdown also led to the closure of all licensed liquor outlets in Kiambu, with their owners ordered to undergo fresh vetting before acquiring new licences. Elsewhere, a cross-section of security agencies and local leaders spoke out on drug abuse in Murang’a, Isiolo, Lamu, Kajiado, Mombasa and Uasin Gishu. Concerns were raised over the porous nature of our border points such as Lunga Lunga and Namanga, where police indicated plans were underway to introduce sniffer dogs to curb trafficking.
Over the past month, murder made up 14% of the crime we noted in our database countrywide. This made it the most prevalent crime trend we noted in March, with illicit liquor/drugs making up a further 12%.
Most incidents involved family disputes over land or other domestic affairs. There was a particular concentration of such incidents in the Western and Nyanza regions, i.e Homa Bay, Kisumu and Kakamega counties.
While suicide only made up 4% of the activity that we noted countrywide, 60% of these cases were noted in the Nyanza and Western regions. Most suicides came as a result of family feuds over issues such as land or infidelity.
Concern was raised in Homa Bay County, where activists launched a campaign to discourage youth and teenagers against the act. This came after police reports revealed that at least 30 people had made the decision to take their own lives in the county in the past six months alone. Note-this figure only includes those who took their own lives. The number will likely rise further still should it include those who ingested poison or drowned themselves, for instance.
- Armed Robberies:
Within the nation’s capital alone, Armed Robberies comprised 18% of the activity that we noted last month. Of note is an emerging trend where thugs pose as police officers to avert suspicion. On 24th March for instance, three suspected thugs attempted to gain access into an office complex while posing as C.I.D officers. Our own security officers however turned them away after they failed to properly identify themselves.
Beyond the capital, thugs were posing as officers to abduct and rob civilians. Four days earlier, a priest was abducted by two suspected thugs shortly after he had withdrawn money from a bank. One of his abductors flashed a police badge at him. Further trends of armed robberies and muggings were noted in Busia, Bungoma, Kiambu counties, while in Meru, Isiolo and Tharaka Nithi, police uncovered a motorcycle theft racket.
- Government Intervention:
In spite of all the above, it is still worth mentioning that we recorded a 5% decrease in overall crime last month when compared to February 2018. Part of this might be attributed to various security agencies’ concerted efforts to tame crime in their localities. In the Coast for example, at least 13 suspected thugs were gunned down in three weeks, and nine in the space of seven days. At least 20 more were arrested, with 18 of these said to be members of the Wakali Kwanza gang that had relocated from Likoni, Mombasa to Ng’ombeni, Kwale.
Apart from the arrest of hundreds in the crackdown on illicit liquor, illegal structures, especially those near schools, were pulled down. This came after concern was raised over the turning of these structures into criminal dens that encourage alcohol and drug abuse among our young ones.
In the war on terror, officers cleared bush 50 metres either side of the Garsen-Witu Road, where extremist elements used to hide before waylaying public service and police vehicles plying the route.