New Police Device to Put Kidnappers Out of Business in Kenya
A mobile phone tracking technology that the police have acquired is promising to put kidnappers out of business. With the assistance of mobile service providers, detectives are now easily busting abductors in the shortest time possible before they collect their ransom.
When an abduction is reported and the criminals have established contact with the victim's family, detectives from CID's Criminal Intelligence Unit (CIU) activate a mobile tracking device to locate the signal from the abductors' mobile phones. This leads the detectives to the suspects within minutes.
The technology identifies the Base Transmission Station (BTS - cell phone transmission masts) that receives the signal and the direction from which it is coming, making it easier for detectives to cordon off and search the area.
Using this technology, the mobile service provider and the police measure signal power levels to the closest BTS. With the cooperation of the mobile service providers, the detectives request the jamming of signals to all other mobile phone users in the area other than the kidnappers'. This makes them arrest the criminals soon as their phone rings.
This is the technology the police used a week ago to rescue former Attorney-General James Karugu's daughter when she was kidnapped by a five-man gang in Ridgeways.
The gang demanded a Sh1 million ransom and the family reported the incident to police, who began tracking the kidnappers through the mobile phone they had used to demand ransom.
Within four hours, police tracked the victim to Kahawa West from where she was rescued. The gangsters were then tracked down to Jogoo Road, where they were shot dead. The technology helps detectives to determine the location of the cell phone and the distance from the transmission masts to about 50 metres in urban areas which have higher numbers of transmission stations. But it is less accurate in rural areas, where distances between cell phone transmission masts are longer.
Police Spokesman Eric Kiraithe said mobile service providers were helping the detectives to combat kidnapping. "Police are using every available technology to track down criminals," Mr Kiraithe said.
The Special Crime Prevention Unit boss Richard Katola says a team of detectives has been successful in rescuing victims after receiving reports from family members who have been contacted for ransom.
"We have rescued several victims since embracing the latest technology. The faster relatives inform the police about a kidnap, the sooner a victim is rescued," Mr Katola told the Sunday Nation.
Police recently rescued a three-year-old girl who had been kidnapped from her home in Kahawa West and taken to Dandora. Five suspects, including two teenage girls, were arrested. Detectives also used the technology to track down a suspected kidnapper who led them to a shack in which two women abducted from Tassia estate had been held for a week.