Factory loses more than 50 bags of coffee in Othaya raid

Thursday January 21 2016

Residents of Gikira village in Othaya view bags of coffee that was left by unknown people who broke into Chinga coffee factory and stole more than 52 bags on January 20, 2016. Four guards were injured during the theft. This brings the total number of coffee bags stolen in the central region in the last three months to 300. PHOTO | JOSEPH KANYI |

Residents of Gikira village in Othaya view bags of coffee beans that were abandoned by unknown people who broke into Chinga coffee factory and stole more than 52 bags on January 20. Two guards were injured during PHOTO | JOSEPH KANYI | NATION MEDIA GROUP

By NICHOLAS KOMU
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More than 50 bags of coffee were stolen from a factory on Wednesday.

The thieves abandoned 23 bags as they hurried away after the dawn raid at Chinga Coffee Factory in Othaya.

This brings the total number of coffee bags stolen in central region in the last three months to 300.

The gang of more than 10 men, seriously injured the factory’s four security guards. One of the three hospitalised guards is still fighting for his life.

The guards said they were ambushed by the robbers who beat them up.

Members of the gang then tied them up before proceeding to the stores where they spent two hours loading the bags onto a pick-up truck.

“They could not take all the coffee because the vehicle was small,” a guard said.

They gang then attempted to break into another store in vain.

PROCESSORS LINK

Factory officials said the raid that took place between 3am and 5am, could have been carried out with the help of people directly linked with processors.

“We can tell that whoever stole the coffee has machines to mill it because the bags they used were graded.

Only millers can grade coffee,” Mr James Gathua, the Chairman of Othaya Farmers’ Cooperative said.

Deputy County Commissioner, Evans Ogwankwa said the thieves were likely to have been hired from the area.

He also asked managers to step up security at factories.

“We have trained the guards and had they followed what they were taught, they would have raised alarm as soon as the gang struck,” the Deputy County Commissioner said.

In just three months, more than 300 bags of coffee have been stolen, with Nyeri and Murang’a being the worst hit counties.

More than 180 bags have been stolen in different locations in Nyeri.

One of the country’s largest private millers suffered the biggest loss of 83 bags in one incident.

Gachirago Factory in Murang’a lost more than 30 bags of coffee while 28 bags were stolen from Wanjengi Factory.

AGENCIES UNCOOPERATIVE

Security agents have in the past accused top coffee agencies’ officials of being uncooperative, saying they had rejected an offer to be provided with armed police officers.

The county government security committee said Co-op officials agreed that factories would be provided with extra armed officers but the millers rejected the proposal without giving reasons or an alternative.

County commissioner Onesmus Musyoki who chairs the security committee earlier told the Nation that all millers were required to report to the police whenever they had coffee in their stores.

The commissioner said the extra security would be provided for free, this being one of the measures the committee was taking to curb the rampant theft of coffee.