A police officer was on Wednesday morning arrested on suspicion of stealing newly-installed solar security street lights in Ol Kalou town, Nyandarua County.
The street lights are part of the beautification and upgrade programme by the county government under the World Bank-funded Kenya Urban Support Programme.
The police officer was arrested as he allegedly dismantled a street light outside the Nyandarua governor’s office. The light also serves the adjacent county commissioner's offices.
Other suspects who were in the company of the officer escaped.
At the scene of the crime, detectives led by Nyandarua Central DCI Eric Ochieng established that the footprints matched the shoes worn by the suspect at the time of his arrest.
Bolts recovered from the suspect also matched those removed from the lighting mast.
Police also recovered spanners, a rope, metal cutters and other equipment used in the vandalism.
The DIC boss said the suspect managed to escape while handcuffed during the night incident, but was later traced to Oleriondo police post, about 10 kilometres from Ol Kalou town.
“We laid a trap at his house until he arrived at about 2am. The handcuffs were missing but we recovered a set of handcuffs from his house. We are still looking for the pair he escaped with,” said Mr Ochieng.
This was a second vandalism incident after a similar one on Monday night and it is suspected that the officer has a ready market for the stolen gadgets.
During the Monday incident, blood stains were found on wires used to secure the street lights.
The arrested officer is suspected to have been involved in the first theft since he had fresh wounds on his shoulders and legs, matching those inflicted by the twisted sharp-edged wires.
Nyandarua police boss Gideon Ngumi said the incident was serious, adding that the implicated officer will face the law.
“Theft of the street lights started in December but we enhanced security. The county government is doing a good job installing the security lights. It’s for the good of the citizens. We will not allow that to happen, we must all support development,” said the police boss.
Mr Ngumi said that it was disturbing to know that the thefts were perpetrated by trained officers who have sworn to protect life and property and fight insecurity.
Nyandarua Urban Development Executive Lawrence Mukundi said each installed solar street light costs Sh130,000.
“We are happy with the arrest. The incidents had become a challenge to us. They steal the lights as soon as they are installed. At least three lights have been stolen in the last few days,” said Mr Mukundi.