Second-hand mobile phone dealers warned as motorbike thugs rampage

Motorcycle gangs are slowly creeping back into the city, not only in the slums but also in the upmarket estates that include Kileleshwa, Karen and Kilimani estates.

The gangs, which operate on motorbikes, tend to steal all valuables and even snatch mobile phones from locals.

“We have heard about these incidents, a European was attacked by people on a motorbike,” said Mr James Aming’a, who lives in Kileleshwa.

As a result of these attacks, most phones end up in the hands of dealers in the city who sell them at cheaper prices.

On March 6, 2024, more than 300 suspected stolen mobile phones, laptops and tablets were seized.

There is an ongoing crackdown on mobile phone theft by detectives and police officers. Boda boda operators who facilitate the theft are also persons of interest in the operation.

On Monday, April 1, Nairobi Police Commander Adamson Bungei issued a stern warning to mobile phone dealers not to buy such phones from suspicious members of the public.

“A number of operators will be arrested and taken to court. We are serious because a number of Kenyans have lost their phones,” said Mr Bungei.

It is a common trend in the city for criminals masquerading as pillion riders on motorbikes to snatch phones.

Later, after the phones are stolen, they are taken to dealers and gadget engineers.

“If you are a mobile phone technician or repairer, stop handling stolen gadgets. You will be an accomplice to the crime if you are found,” he said.

Apart from the city’s posh estates, other common places where phones have been snatched are along the busy Thika Superhighway, River Road, Kirinyaga Road and Kilimani areas.

Others are along Ngong Road, Kayole, Lang’ata area, Kibra, and also in Kawangware.

Once the phones are stolen, the dealers sell them as second-hand phones.

These mobile phone thieves are so ruthless that they will kill to get the phones.

The crackdown in Nairobi City came just two months after more than 234 such phones were recovered in the Kayole area.

The devices were being transported in a motor vehicle.

During the operation, a suspect identified as Dennis Kioko Mutua was arrested in connection with the theft.

Mr Bungei said the theft of the gadgets was the reason why criminal elements were operating in the city.

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