Robbers armed with guns have raided Kiviuvi Coffee Factory in Embu County and made away with coffee worth over Sh2.5 million.
The gangsters struck at around 2am Monday and broke into the factory’s stores where they stole 75 bags of clean coffee after tying up the lone night watchman.
This latest theft comes at a time when coffee prices have increased in the region where many residents rely on the commodity for survival.
According to the County Cooperatives Commissioner David Muriuki, the gangsters forced their way into the Kiviuvi factory and ordered the guard on night duty to surrender at gun point.
GUARD TIED UP
The guard obeyed and the gangsters tied his hands and legs with a rope and then proceeded to the stores where they removed the bags of coffee.
They loaded the loot into a lorry believed to have been stolen elsewhere and made good their escape.
When the gangsters fled, the guard raised the alarm attracting neighbours who untied him and reported the matter to the local police station.
Mr Muriuki observed that security is very poor in most of the factories where coffee is stored.
"How can one watchman who is ill-equipped be competent enough to fight off gangsters?" he asked.
Mr Muriuki said security should be beefed up in all the factories in the region for coffee to be safe.
He lamented that farmers have incurred heavy losses because the stolen coffee was not insured.
Mr Muriuki underscored the need for factory managements to insure farmers' coffee so that they can be compensated when theft happens. He also suggested that CCTV cameras be installed in all the factories.
TAKEN BY SURPRISE
The night guard, Tablon Ireri Njeru, said the gangsters took him by surprise.
"I was guarding the factory when suddenly the gangsters confronted me and pointed guns at me. They warned me of dire consequences should I raise the alarm," he said.
Farmers said they were shocked on learning that their coffee which was ready for marketing had been stolen.
They called on the police to pursue the gangsters and ensure that the stolen coffee is recovered.
The farmers also said they suspected that the theft was an inside job and asked the police to carry out thorough investigations to establish the truth of the matter.
A wave of coffee thefts has been sweeping across the region since last year, leaving farmers and government officials worried.
In the past eight months, thieves raided ten factories and stole coffee.