Inside Trimo Security Solutions Ltd offices in Nairobi, seven men and three women have taken strategic sitting positions, each busy, either on their laptops or tracking devices.
It is about 2pm, and the team has just arrived from an undercover mission.
Tiger, the lead detective is seen busy briefing the Trimo Security CEO, Jane Wawira Mugo, on what has transpired.
But however hard you try, you cannot even grasp a word of what they are talking about. Security is a sensitive issue and Ms Mugo and her team know that too well so they use coded language.
She is Kenya’s Sherlock Holmes who smells her suspects from a distance, and leaves no stone unturned even if pursuit means crossing the borders.
Were it not for her work, many criminals languishing in cold cells today would still be walking free.
“I love the job, and I love my suspects too, and the thrill of the chase,” says the former under-cover agent with the Kenya Police.
LEADING PRIVATE DETECTIVE FIRM
Ms Mugo made the decision to start a private detective business in Nairobi in 2008 and today, her company, Trimo Security Solutions, is a leading private investigations firm in Kenya.
Her clients include the government, law companies, business entities, corporates, international organisations and individuals.
Her firm specialises in forensic investigations, VIP protection, fraud, security consultancy, and debt collection services.
She charges between Sh50,000 and Sh500,000 depending on the depth of investigation work, travel and the time involved.
The figures can go higher if she has to pursue suspects outside the country.
Once the reports are out, sometimes she has to counsel her clients to accept the heavy truths.
This has seen the firm recruit two counselling psychologists and two company lawyers.
“We sign an agreement with our client before undertaking any assignments,” she states.
TRAINED WITH CID AS A DETECTIVE
Having previously trained as a detective with the Criminal Investigations Department (CID), now Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI), Ms Mugo has since gone back to school and earned a Bachelor’s degree in criminology from Kenyatta University.
Over the years, she has earned accolades from the Kenya Police for her work.
She attributes this success to her ability to conclude her investigation assignments within stipulated timelines and on budget.
This has won her a reputation among her clients.
“This has kept us busy with repeat clients and referrals, and seen the company investigate some big projects from time to time,” she says.
For instance, in 2009, she caught thieves who had stolen 10 calorimeters belonging to the government equipment meant to test HIV/Aids in children.
The gadgets cost Sh1 million each and she managed to recover nine of them.
“I confiscated and scanned the suspects’ mobile phones and that gave us the leads,” she says.
She discovered that four of the machines had already been sold at Sh280,000 to a health centre in Kakamega, while two others had been sold to a government hospital in Mombasa.
Again in 2013, Ms Mugo investigated a case in which two sisters had been murdered by a gardener in Nairobi’s South C estate.
The investigations took her and her team to a sleepy village in Western Kenya, where they spent two weeks.
“One of our staff took the role of a motorcycle rider, another became a hawker, and I took the role of an NGO-aid worker donating flour in the village,” she explains.
Eventually, they arrested the gardener at a church.
“The ruling has been done and the man has been handed a death sentence,” she reveals.
Her passion for security was honed in her teenage years.
LED CIVIL PROTEST AT 19
The one-time head girl of Karoti Girls High School in Kirinyaga was only 19-years-old when she led a civil protest at her home area in Kirinyaga due to the insecurity.
This, she says, led to the creation of a police station.
In her honour, it was named Jane Mugo Police Station.
She is the first security agent in Kenya to train civilians on Client Protection Officer (CPO) course.
She has so far trained 15 civilians, five of whom are from her firm.
“I would want to train more civilians in the 47 counties.
“I want to build a Kenya where civilians can be trained for executive protection, relieving the police to handle their daily security duties,” she states.
She is in the process of establishing a crimes investigation training school.
“I want to pass on what I have learnt from other countries,” she explains.
Ms Mugo has been to Rwanda, South Africa, America, Uganda and India to compare their security systems with Kenya’s in order to see what the country can adopt.
“In every village in America, there is a police station that handles domestic and children issues.
“This makes security response very fast unlike in Kenya where it is only the (police) control room that responds to all security matters,” she expresses.
And how does she spend her free time?
“Most of the times I am very busy as my working schedules can be very odd.
“However, I go for swimming and I watch crime movies. I also go to the gym a lot,” she says.
She also spends some time with her son, Trypin Mugo, 14, who attends boarding school.
Being a detective has put her life on the line.
“Initially, I got very scared whenever I received death threats but nowadays I’ve developed some thick skin,” she says with a chuckle.
In November last year, she says, some people were asking for her son’s blood.
“I was being trailed by some prominent people who were not happy with me investigating them on land fraud.
“They were using subscriber’s numbers to send me threatening messages, making it difficult to trace them,” she explains.
This eventually saw her and her son take an early Christmas break.
“I had to go to India,” she says, adding that she cannot just quit her work.
“I love justice. I have salaries to pay, and I have to see this company grow.”
Now Ms Mugo tightens her boots ready for her next assignment.
She is now headed to Tanzania where she will be investigating a major financial fraud case, she says, and some good money is involved.