Coffee farmers in Nyeri County are counting their losses after thieves vandalised a factory and stole coffee and assets worth more than Sh2 million on Sunday night.
Armed robbers stole 120 bags of top-grade parchment coffee (dried but unhulled coffee beans) from Gititu Coffee Factory in Tetu Sub-County. The factory is an affiliate of the Aguthi Farmers Co-operative Society.
The incident comes as the county government considers whether to form a special police squad dubbed the anti-coffee theft unit to fight such crimes in the county.
Nyeri Governor Nderitu Gachagua in 2014 said the squad would receive two vehicles, which would be fuelled by the county government to assist in eliminating the vice.
ARMED WITH GUNS
According to the factory’s chairman, Nderitu Karime, the robbers armed with guns and machetes attacked three guards who were protecting the factory’s premises and tied them together at a point next to the factory’s water tank.
“I was called by one of the factory’s clerks at around 5.30am informing me that the factory had been vandalised. I then called our assistant chief and factory manager. I also informed security officers based at the Gichira Police Post,” said Mr Karime.
The guards were tied together and left under the watch of three armed men to prevent them from raising the alarm.
The other gang members then proceeded to break the factory’s store and equipment room before a lorry came in and was loaded with parchment coffee and other items belonging to the factory.
According to the factory’s assistant manager, Vincent Macharia, they lost 120 bags of parchment coffee, a computer, a complete tool box, books, a pump and factory chemicals.
The factory’s chairman said since December 2014, they had delivered 268 bags of coffee to the Kenya Co-operative Coffee Exporters (KCCE) at the Sagana depot, and they were planning to deliver the remaining 210 bags Tuesday.