How police cracked CCTV to track gang in Sh72m heist

Robbers who stole Sh72 million last week had disabled surveillance cameras in two locations in a bid to conceal their identities.

Investigations have established that closed-circuit television (CCTV) cameras were switched off at the G4S warehouse on Witu Road where the cash was collected for delivery.

The robbers also tampered with cameras inside a Standard Chartered Bank ATM lobby in Nairobi West where the heist was executed last Thursday.But the plan flopped after detectives obtained surveillance videos from CCTV cameras mounted in neighbouring buildings, which they used to identify the robbers.

Skipped roll-call

“The footage captured the suspects’ faces and cars they used as they left the premises. The culprits probably did not know there were CCTVs in neighbouring structures that have helped in cracking this case,” said an investigator aware of the matter.

This is one of the flaws in a robbery said to have been planned for almost five months and that has led to the swift arrest of 20 suspects, who include bank staff, employees of security services firm G4S and police officers.Investigators have also established that there was a last-minute swap of police officers who were scheduled to transport the money.

Their replacements also skipped a roll-call before the cash was released from the G4S warehouse..According to detectives, the police officers who should have escorted the money were never picked up from their residences as earlier planned.

And at the warehouse, the names of the officers collecting the cash were not called out for identification as is routine. Instead, the officers were ushered in and out in a hurry, investigations have shown.

The G4S employees who were transporting the cash had reportedly told investigators that their three armed escorts had turned against them on the way to the bank.

While the escorts have since been identified as Administration Police officers, the security guards had claimed they were robbers masquerading as police officers.After seizing the cash in the transport van, the private security guards said their captors had forced them to reveal the passwords for the bank’s ATM.

They emptied the ATM of more cash before loading the money boxes into a getaway car and fleeing the scene.Last Friday, 13 empty cash boxes were found in Thogoto Forest in Kiambu. Investigations have shown that the gang had hired two vans to ferry their loot from Nairobi West to the forest where they shared it.

After the mission was accomplished, the getaway driver duped an unsuspecting friend to return the van to its owner.

“The money was divided among the 20 people who had made the mission a success,” said an investigator.But detectives had in the meantime sifted through footage obtained from different CCTV cameras, which they used to identify the suspects and their getaway vehicles.

That is what first led them to a Toyota Voxy van that was being repainted in a garage, where they made arrests. They later pursued and arrested two police officers and reportedly recovered Sh7 million.One suspect, a police constable from Spring Valley Police Station, had Sh3 million at his rural home in Seka village, Kendu Bay.

The money was hidden under a bed at his parents’ home, police said.The constable has been in police service for a year after he graduated from the Kenya Police College, Kiganjo.

The other officer who is based at the Thogoto AP camp was arrested in Kisii town on Saturday. Police said they found Sh4 million in a bag in the boot of his car.

He told police he had bought the Subaru Forester for Sh1.5 million last Thursday and was on his way to his rural home.