Coffee worth more than Sh20 million was on Tuesday stolen in Nyeri, bringing the total worth of the produce stolen in the last one year to Sh157m.
A group of men broke into Tambaya Factory, Mukurwe-ini early morning and stole about 40 bags and a water pump valued at Sh500,000.
The gang spent at least three hours in the factory emptying the bins undetected and ransacking the manager’s office. Two watchmen guarding the factory were tied up and told to stay silent.
The thieves then lit a fire next to the guards and told them to keep warm as they broke into the drier and packed the dry coffee.
They then cut the factory’s main power supply, disabling the motion sensors and the alarm therefore could not be detected.
They cleared the dried parchments in the bins, the best quality P1, and proceeded to the drying beds outside where some of the coffee was still dying.
They also stole coffee that was drying.
Though police said that the gang escaped on foot carrying 40 bags, farmers doubted whether it was possible to escape with such number of bags undetected by police, who have a post barely 60 metres away.
Confirming the incident Mukurwei-ini OCPD Johnson Muli said the incident occurred between 2 am and 5.20 am before the watchmen reported the incident to a police post. The police post is just 60 metres from the factory.
“We have launched investigations into the matter and will soon arrest the perpetrators. We cannot conclude that it was an inside job,” he said.
The residents were woken up after watchmen raised alarm when the thieves had already left.
AN INSIDE JOB
Coffee farmers and workers in the factory claimed that the scheme was an inside job noting that the gang carried out the theft in an organised manner.
“The tactics used here point clearly that it was an inside job. I talked to one of the watchmen who said the thieves knew the guards by name,” said a worker who requested not to be named.
Residents further questioned the watchmen’s failure to raise alarm and alert the residents.
Security officials had last year requested coffee factories to request for security when they have coffee in the stores but they were an interested.
The affected did not have a proper gate nor a properly erected fence to keep off intruders.
This was after an increase in coffee theft in factories with coffee farmers distressed that they coffee was not protected.
Rumukia Farmers’ Cooperative Society official Joseph Ngunjiri said at least 80 per cent of the coffee in the stores was stolen terming it a big loss to the coffee farmers.
AFFECT FARMERS' INCOME
“This was a low season for the farmers and the theft will really terribly affect their income. Coffee farmers are really struggling to
He did not refute claims that it would have been an inside job noting the management would cooperative with the investigators.
“They knew where to cut the power supply and totally disable the motion sensors,” said one of the workers at the factory,” he said adding that the guards did not raise alarm in time.
One of the coffee farmers who delivered 1000 kilo the factory Gregory Gichuki had not come into terms with the theft and hoped that the insurer would compensate them.
Last year at least eight factories were broken in to and over 600 bags of coffee stolen. The security officials had even asked the factories management to request for enhanced security once coffee was delivered but did not act.
Governor Nderitu Gachagua had also threatened to repossess vehicles donated to the police by the county government, saying the officers had failed to curb theft of the produce.
The police had not made any arrest noting that they were pursuing crucial leads.