Following a string of concerning incidents, the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) has issued a warning to taxi operators regarding a troubling trend perpetrated by criminal syndicates.

These syndicates are employing deceptive tactics to hire taxis for long-distance trips or journeys with multiple pick-up points, only to turn violent and rob the drivers along secluded routes.

"The DCI cautions taxi operators to be wary of an ongoing trend by criminal syndicates that are hiring taxi services for either long distances or trips with several pickup points while guised as cash-rich customers, only to turn violent robbers along the way," the DCI stated in a statement.

The criminals' strategy typically involves selecting targets they perceive as vulnerable and offering lucrative deals to entice unsuspecting taxi drivers.

Once engaged, they negotiate trip details, often orchestrating scenarios involving multiple pick-up points along secluded routes.

"The 'customer' negotiates with the taxi driver on the charges for the trip, and while on the way communicates with one or more accomplices who will be conveniently waiting along the route. With promises of an extra inconvenience fee for the stop, the driver goes ahead to let onboard new passengers," the DCI revealed.

"In some occasions, the accomplices lie in wait at the drop-off point. Usually, the route or destinations picked will have secluded areas, where the gangs turns against the drivers, robs them off their vehicles and at times murder them in cold blood."

In a recent incident reported at Kikopey Police Post in Gilgil, Nakuru County, on January 14, 2024, a 42-year-old male taxi operator from Nairobi's CBD fell victim to this nefarious scheme.

The unsuspecting driver was hired by a customer to drive him to Nakuru in his Toyota Fielder. However, the situation took a dangerous turn when, during the journey, the customer requested to pick up two friends in Naivasha's Karagita area.

Shortly after picking up the additional passengers and proceeding towards Nakuru, the passengers turned on the driver, robbing him of his vehicle and leaving him stranded in Diatomite area, Gilgil. Upon receiving the report, the DCI swiftly deployed a team of detectives to launch a manhunt for the suspects.

The diligence of the DCI's investigation led to the arrest of two suspects, Francis Ojerepata Omoindi, 39, and Jack Odhiambo Otieno, 38, in Bungoma County.

The recovered vehicle, along with numerous incriminating items such as seven sim cards, five national ID cards, and two driving licenses, served as crucial evidence in the ongoing case.

Both suspects have been handed over to the DCI Gilgil for further police action, while efforts to pursue other accomplices are underway.

The case is currently being heard at the Chief Magistrate's Court in Naivasha.

In response to these incidents, the DCI emphasized the importance of vigilance among taxi operators, urging them to be wary of potential threats and to promptly report any suspicious activities to the police through designated hotlines.

"While we understand the challenges faced by hardworking taxi drivers, ensuring passenger safety remains paramount," stated the DCI.

"We remain committed to investigating serious crimes and maintaining the integrity of our services to the community."

The cautionary advisory serves as a reminder to taxi operators to exercise caution and vigilance in their interactions with passengers, particularly those involving long-distance or multi-stop journeys.

By staying alert and cooperating with law enforcement authorities, taxi operators can help thwart the activities of criminal syndicates and ensure the safety of both themselves and their passengers.