*The following narrative is a fictional account of what some armed carjacking victims have experienced*
“Hello sweetie, how was school?” you ask your 8-year-old daughter as you shut down your laptop at work.
It has become a custom for her to call as soon as she gets dropped home from school.
“School was OK mum,” she says flatly before going silent. You can tell by her lack of enthusiasm that she’s distracted by the TV.
“Do you have homework?” you finally ask as you struggle to lock up your office with car keys in one hand and four-inch heels in the other.
“Yes, sweetie, I know it’s Friday, but you’ve received assignments over the weekend before. Sure, we can watch a movie when I get home, but we cannot watch Frozen again, pick another one. See you soon, mummy is about to get in the car. Love you too!”
You walk to your regular parking slot, dump your laptop bag and heels in the back seat and drive off. You give a customary wave to the security guard as he holds the gate open for you and you’re soon on the highway headed home.
Traffic isn’t too bad and within half an hour you’re turning off the main road. Someone cuts you off at the junction but you don’t curse because it’s Friday and Emily is looking forward to movie night!
As you approach your gate, you notice a couple of guys hanging around the neighbouring residence but pay little attention to them.
You pull up the driveway, hoot and wait for the house help to open the gate, still drumming your fingers on the steering wheel listening to Elani.
There’s a sudden light tap on your window, you turn to find a scruffy-looking man, in his mid-twenties in a hood and jeans, brandishing a pistol. Three other youth surround your car armed with crowbars and machetes…
Home owners have long faced the risk of being carjacked or attacked at their gates, especially when arriving home late.
On 04/05/2017, a family in Kandasi, Ongata Rongai, were accosted by armed thugs in a similar fashion. The family was robbed of their vehicle, a laptop, and cash. Similar incidents have also been noted in Kiambu and Nyeri in recent months.
According to Securex Senior Operations Manager, John Ogutu, carjackings involve significant surveillance and planning on the gangsters’ part before they lay an ambush on their victim.
“Such incidents are normally highly-targeted, which means a victim would have been monitored for a while before being attacked.
You should try to make it difficult for the criminals to do this by varying your daily routine. Leave the house and drive back at different times every day, use different routes even if you can help it,” Mr. Ogutu advised.
He encourages residents to be vigilant during their daily commute to ensure they are not being followed, adding that if you suspect that you’re being followed, drive to the nearest police station or find a well-lit and preferably busy area where criminals won’t have any cover such as a petrol station, supermarket, or public parking.
Additionally, when pulling up to your residence, you should be alert and watch out for individuals lurking around your gate. Should you notice any suspicious characters, you shouldn’t stop or slow down but drive straight past.
“We usually encourage our clients to make it a habit of calling ahead, especially if they expect to be running late in the evening.
It is good practice to let your loved ones know what time to expect your arrival as this enhances early detection and response to an incident,” Mr. Ogutu concluded.