Police on Monday arrested nine livestock thieves as they intensified war on the theft of the animals in Nyeri and Murang’a counties.
Five cows were also recovered in the two operations conducted on Sunday night and yesterday morning.
On Sunday night in Kandara, Murang’a County, the thieves were ferrying a cow in a matatu when police officers nabbed them at Nguthuru village.
Kandara division police boss Wilson Kosgey said that they are pursuing a gang that has been dealing in stolen cows in the area.
According to the police boss, the gang comprises two guards, a matatu operator and a butcher. The matatu owner is believed to provide the get-away vehicle while the butcher distributes meat from the stolen animals.
“I have the list of all the butchers who buy meat knowing too well that it is from stolen cows and the meat is not even inspected by the relevant bodies. Let them be warned that they are not lucky, I’m coming for them,” the OCPD said cautioning junior officers against complacency in combating the thefts.
Farmers have for the last five months been grappling with livestock theft with the gang stealing the animals at night. What is strange is how the thieves are able to take the animals from their sheds without causing a commotion.
Since January, residents of Gakawa in Kieni, Nyeri County claim that over 100 cattle have been stolen in the area. In Muriru village alone, at least 11 cows were stolen in one week.
“These thieves are a nuisance. In just one week, 11 cows have been stolen from my village. I even had to sell mine to avoid such a loss,” said Mr Baragu Gitonga, a resident.
Yesterday morning, police had to use live ammunition and road blocks to stop two vans that were transporting four cows from Michuiri in Naromoru.
The pursuit of the vehicles started at around 2am after locals caught two suspects loading cows onto one of the vans. The suspects fled as the locals gave a chase in a private vehicle after alerting the police.
A road block was mounted at Chaka market and when the suspects tried to evade it, officers opened fire puncturing the tyres of the van they were using.
Two occupants of the vehicle were arrested. Irate members of the public who were baying for their blood turned their frustration on the vehicle.
Two hours later a second van, also ferrying stolen cows emerged from the bushy areas of Naromoru but was intercepted. Two other suspects were arrested and two cows recovered.
Police believe the cows were being transported to Murang’a where it is suspected to be the home of a black market for stolen animals. Not only are the cows being sold for meat, it is suspected that some are sold to unsuspecting dairy farmers.
Kieni East police boss Job Lesikinwa said that detectives are probing cases of livestock theft in the area as they pursue masterminds of the thefts.
“The suspects are not locals, they are from Meru. We are investigating further because we believe there is a local informer,” Mr Lesikinwa said.