Two Nyandarua farmers are counting losses after livestock thieves raided their homes on Wednesday night and stole 16 sheep valued at Sh120,000.
This latest incident of livestock theft happened in Memo Village, Kinangop Constituency.
Mr Peter Maina, the first victim, lost the entire stock of 13 sheep valued at Sh100,000. He said he suspects the criminals must have drugged them into deep slumber.
The thieves destroyed part of the fence to access the compound, then destroyed the sheep’s pen using crude weapons.
Metal bars used to break into the homestead were recovered within the compound.
“There were vehicle tracks where they loaded the sheep. It must be the same car used to steal from my neighbour over the weekend. They also disconnected the security lights and stole the bulbs,” said Mr Maina.
He said he checks on his sheep at least three times every night since the livestock thefts started.
“Security is bad in our area. We might be forced to stop rearing sheep. The cars used to transport the animals use roads manned by police and we wonder why they never arrest those transporting stolen livestock at night. No farmer sells their livestock at night,” said Mr Maina.
The other victim, Ms Hannah Wambui, 84, lost three sheep.
“I am ailing. I have to go for regular medical check-ups and the sheep were my only source of income. I am appealing to the police to help me recover them,” said the elderly woman.
The residents protested after the release of some suspects arrested and handed over to Murungaru Police Station on Monday.
“It’s a gang of about 30. We arrested their leader on Monday following the weekend thefts but they were mysteriously released from police custody,” said Ms Nyambuke.
The livestock thieves continue raiding Nyandarua despite elaborate measures by farmers and police to protect the animals.
The region has witnessed persistent thefts for the last three years.
The incidents started with the slaughter of donkeys, then shifted to cows, goats and sheep, to cows again.
But since November last year, the thieves have concentrated on sheep and goats.
Security agents attribute the thefts to Nyandarua’s proximity to major towns and many escape routes to Nakuru, Kiambu and Nairobi counties where some of the stolen livestock or meat from stolen animals has been intercepted.
The thieves have strategically camped in Mirangine Sub-County in Ol Kalou Constituency, which neighbours Nakuru County, and Kinangop Constituency which neighbours Kiambu and Nakuru counties and is a gateway to Nairobi city.
“They are easily able to escape to the neighbouring counties from Mirangine and Kinangop Constituency. Police need to focus more on the escape routes at border points with enhanced patrols on rural access roads leading to the neighbouring counties,” said Allan Wanjau, who lost seven sheep in January.
The thefts escalated at the end of the year when three farmers lost goats, sheep and dairy cows on Christmas night.
Police and residents believe that the perpetrators are outsiders who are assisted by locals who do the scouting and then help the thieves to escape.
ARRESTED IN NAKURU
Last month, detectives from Mirangine led by local DCI boss Peter Wahome traced and arrested four suspects at Bahati market in Nakuru County in connection with two theft incidents where farmers lost 21 sheep.
Mr Wahome said the suspects were arrested at a private slaughterhouse owned by a trader with a chain of butcheries in Nakuru County.
During the arrest, the detectives recovered meat, skins, heads, and hooves from seven goats suspected to have been stolen from Nyandarua.
Nyandarua County Police Commander Gideon Ngumi says they are making good progress in ending the menace.
“We have introduced a number of roadblocks on various routes. You will realise that few incidents have been reported since December when we introduced the roadblocks and enhanced patrols,” said Mr Ngumi.