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Police link two robbers shot dead to rampant coffee thefts in Central Kenya

Thursday December 22 2016

Police, assisted by residents, load stolen

Police, assisted by residents, load stolen coffee that was found in a home in Mutathiini Village in Nyeri on December 18, 2016. two robbers who were shot dead earlier this week and a man found with the 10 tonnes of stolen parchment to coffee have been linked to theft cartels operating in Central Kenya. PHOTO | JOSEPH KANYI | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

NICHOLAS KOMU
By NICHOLAS KOMU
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Police have linked two robbers who were shot dead earlier this week and a man found with 10 tonnes of stolen parchment to coffee theft cartels operating in Central Kenya.

Following the biggest discovery of coffee stolen in a wave of robberies in the region, police say they now have a lead on the cartels.

A five-man gang that was shot dead during a robbery at Gatitu was part of a group on a mission to steal coffee from factories.

Central Regional Police Coordinator Larry Kieng’ said the discovery of the coffee in one of the suspects’ houses provided a crucial clue about the cartel that has stolen over 1,000 bags in Nyeri, Kirinyaga and Murang’a this year.

“This is a major breakthrough,” said Mr Kieng’.

On Sunday morning, two suspected robbers, one of them a former soldier, were shot dead by police during an attempted robbery at a bar.

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Three others escaped on motorcycles and police began a search for them.

STOLEN COFFEE FOUND

Among the three was a man in whose house police stumbled on the 10 tonnes of stolen coffee.

Detectives were also able to identify one of the dead suspects and witnesses showed them his village.

Investigations led to the house where the coffee was stashed.

Although the owner is on the run, police say this is the closest they have come to catching the perpetrators of the theft of the “black gold”.

“We will continue tracking him down as we continue to solve the thefts in the region,” said the police boss.

County police commanders from Murang’a and Kirinyaga have since visited the Nyeri Central Police Station to try and identify if the coffee came from any of the factories robbed in the counties in past months.

The coffee board also held talks with police over the matter as investigations go on.

Two other members of the gang have since gone into hiding.