“I was leaving the office at around 7:45 pm, heading to the GM stage on Mombasa Road to catch a matatu home. I had a bag with some documents and my notebook inside, and there were five or so people walking in the same direction as I was. A motorbike started to slow down next to where we were walking, and the first thing I noticed was that one of the occupants had a pistol which was pointed directly at me. Everyone around me ran when they saw the gun. One man jumped off the bike, pistol still trained on me, leaving two other men on it. They were not even wearing masks or making any attempt to hide their identities; in fact I would be able to pick them out if I saw them again.
He ordered me not to move, and to do exactly as he instructed. I could only nod in response. He took my bag, asked for my phone and wallet and threw both to one of his accomplices, who was also armed. A five-hundred shilling note fell out of my pocket as I surrendered my phone, and the thug quickly stepped on it before I could react. They rummaged through my bag but only found another five-hundred shilling note. I never keep money in my wallet so there was nothing of note there either. They then hopped on the bike and rode off, throwing my bag away a few metres ahead. The whole incident happened in under two minutes and they were gone.
I walked back to the office where I reported the incident to my superiors who then contacted the Police. Fortunately I had two thousand shillings in my back-pocket which I used to get home. I had contemplated carrying my laptop to work as I left home for work that morning but then thought against it since I could easily use the office desktop.”
Let’s take a moment to analyse the above case study. Joseph*:
- Left the office late, nearly at 8 pm, walking along a busy highway but still got robbed at gunpoint.
- Complied with the robbers’ directives to the letter.
- Did not keep money in his wallet.
- Had money kept in different places on his person.
- Did not carry his laptop with him.
The robbery also did not last more than two minutes.
Since 01/03/2016 when this incident occurred, we have seen a number of incidents involving the use of bodabodas to rob pedestrians, sometimes in broad daylight as well. Most notably were two separate early morning incidents in Kasarani-Mwiki, where three pedestrians were robbed, two of them shot, by an armed gang on a motorcycle. The most recent incidents occurred on 01/06/2016, when two men were shot and robbed at gunpoint along Riara Road just hours apart. In these incidents, the victims who resisted the gang’s demands were shot and wounded, one fatally.
So what lessons can we take away from these ordeals?
- Do not carry a bag unless it is absolutely vital. The thugs probably picked Joseph out of the crowd of five that he was walking with because he was carrying a bag, which they might have hoped meant he had a laptop with him.
- Do not carry valuables such as a laptop, iPad or tablet unless absolutely necessary to do so, especially if you know you will be out late.
- Avoid staying out after dark unless you have no alternative. Come up with a buddy system where colleagues leave the office in pairs or, preferably, larger groups. If your place of work provides transport then that would be a lot safer than commuting on your own.
- With security, it is always wise to spread risk. For instance, thugs will almost always go for your bag and wallet so spread your cash around a little. That way if someone pickpockets your wallet you will not be left with nothing.
- If accosted by thugs, especially if armed or they outnumber you, do not confront them. Your life is worth much more than your material wealth.
- Such robbery incidences are usually very brief to keep the chances of getting caught at a premium. This also explains the use of a motorcycle as a get-away vehicle, since it is difficult to track and keep up with especially in traffic. Note that the thugs in the above-mentioned incident did not even frisk the victim for more valuables.
We certainly hope you never find yourself in similar circumstances, but if you do then following these tips should get you out of trouble.
Have any crime-related incidents to share? Talk to us via firstname.lastname@example.org and help keep others safe.
*Not his real name.