By Simon Masaba
Thieves obtained an equivalent of sh205m from snatching handbags and necklaces on Kampala streets, according to a Police report.
A total of 140 cases of property snatching were reported at different Police stations/posts, especially in the Kampala Metropolitan Policing (KMP), according to the 2022 Police report.
Detectives said the cases (of snatching valuables) are ‘petty’ in nature and carry a little sentence or fine, hence fuelling the crimes on streets and highways.
“As a result, the thieves, who mostly operate in groups, do so with a sense of impunity, seeing the sentences (between four to 10 months) and fines as little. Understandably, the Police find it demoralising, knowing that when they arrest a culprit, he/she will be back on the street within hours,” said a detective.
The detective said they only managed to recover property (handbags/necklaces) worth sh27m in cases where suspects were arrested out of the stolen property worth sh205m.
It also emerged that 6,936 cases of mobile phones theft were reported to Police in 2022 compared to 4,143 cases reported in 2021.
“Most of these cases occurred as a result of snatching from unsuspicious members of the public,” read excerpts of the report.
Old Kampala division registered 268 cases, followed by Rwampara (254), Katwe (243), CPS Kampala (189), Kawempe (69), Luuka (64), Bukwo with 160 cases, Kabalagala (58) and Nansana (149).
In April, the Police arrested 15 suspects linked to a gang that snatches valuables, especially mobile phones from unsuspecting victims from the city Centre and neighboring townships.
The deputy police spokesperson, Claire Nabakka, identified the suspects as; James Mutabazi, Amis Wavamuno, Joel Balyejusa, Edgar Lugendo, Arthur Gumisiriza, Nyanzi Musafaru, Musa Waswa, Emmanuel Kwesiga, Ivan Lusiba, Umaru Ssemwanga, Daniel Wokulira, Grace Mukwajanga, Martin Kayiira, Francis Oketcho and Musa Mudima.
According to Nabakka, on January 5, the territorial Police of Old Kampala together with area local area authorities and goodwill members of the public conducted an intelligence-led operation in the basement of KK Trust building, Namirembe Road, Blue Room Zone, Kisenyi One parish.
“This area has been a known spot of notorious phone snatchers, tricksters who sell phones and stealthily interchange them, giving their unsuspecting customers fake phones. These are promoters who buy stolen electronics, especially smartphones – key suspects have been arrested,” she said.