On Thursday, 5th May 2016, a suspected intruder was arrested by our Mobile Response Team after he was found tampering with CCTV wires from the rooftop of a residence in Runda. This was the second noted attempt to disable the CCTV surveillance system installed there. In another incident noted on the same day, a private security guard was injured after he was waylaid by a gang of five men while on his way to work in Mlolongo. The thugs claimed he was the reason why they could not break into an industrial company he was manning. Meanwhile, on Saturday, 26th March, three thugs armed with pistols raided a residential court on Shanzu Road and tied up the private security guards they found on site. After overpowering the guards, one of the intruders dressed up in the guards’ uniform before proceeding to a house where they attempted to gain entry by asking the owner for drinking water. The house owner refused and raised an alarm forcing the thugs to flee. These are just a few illustrations of a rising trend where criminals are now shifting their focus towards disabling crime prevention systems to facilitate theft.
“The private security sector is fast becoming a major contributor to the country’s economy. With this growth however comes new challenges,” says James Nicholl, General Manager of Security and Sustainability at Securex Agencies (K) LTD.
“As more residential and commercial premises take up private security contractors, criminals are now resorting to finding means of tampering with or completely disabling security systems. 31% of the crime we have recorded over the past four months in Nairobi happened in residential areas, and a further 26% happened in commercial premises. We have been noting incidents where thugs steal manual panic alarm buttons, security guards’ uniforms, tamper with CCTV wiring, or even physically attempt to turn CCTV surveillance cameras away from crime scenes. In some cases the criminals go as far as to steal panic alarm buttons from private security guards at premises neighbouring their actual target so that they reduce the risk of encountering a Mobile Response Team as they escape.”
As far as mitigating measures go, the most effective is the integration of security systems which affords one more comprehensive cover against theft and intrusion.
“With the incident in Runda for instance, the house owner had an electric fence and a panic alarm button alongside the CCTV system already installed at the residence. The intruder unknowingly tripped the electric fence alarm and the owner activated an alarm through the panic button, ensuring a response team was there on time and the thug was apprehended,” Mr. Nicholl went on.
Aside from integration, private security contractors also resort to engaging their officers in regular refresher training courses especially with regards to self-defence and incident management. Weekly parades as well afford contractors an opportunity to keep their officers up-to-date on the latest crime trends; so guards are never caught unawares regardless the situation they face.
Co-operation between security firms and the Police continues to bear fruit in fighting armed criminal gangs. We therefore feel that the Private Security Industry Regulations Act that was signed into law by the President in May will provide a platform for enhanced collaboration between the industry and Government, which in turn will yield lower crime rates to the benefit of the public.