A woman, identified as Wambui Tisho, and her boyfriend who were arrested in Nyeri Town on August 11, 2016 while armed with a pistol. The two are said to part of criminal gangs terrorising residents of various towns in Nyeri County. The gangs have continued to escape police dragnets. PHOTO | NICHOLAS KOMU | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

Multiple missed opportunities by police have allowed Nyeri’s most wanted criminals to continue terrorising the town and rob residents at gunpoint.

Two of the most wanted men are armed with pistols and are responsible for a series of violent robberies in Nyeri Town and surrounding estates but have somehow managed to evade the long arm of the law.
In the last one month, the two have evaded arrest on four separate occasions, including an attempt by members of the public to lynch them.
Identified by their aliases, Talanta and Jamaica, the robbers are known to rob shops, money agents, entertainment joints and even pedestrians.
Police have also unearthed the involvement of women in violent crime following the arrest of a woman armed with a pistol.
The woman and her boyfriend were arrested while in possession of a pistol in a matatu in Nyeri Town last week on Thursday morning as they attempted to flee from police.
The two identified as Mr Alex Mathenge and Ms Vanessa Wambui alias Tisho, were nabbed in a Nanyuki-bound matatu by Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) officers and a Ceska pistol with five rounds of ammunition recovered.
Police revealed that the woman is one of the most dreaded criminals in the town and that she could be one of many other women being used by criminal gangs in armed robberies.
“She does not appear to be a criminal but she is one of the most feared. There is a likelihood that many more women have been inducted into criminal gangs since physical appearance does not give away a criminal easily,” said Mr Masai Makau the town OCPD.
The couple is reported to have been involved in multiple robberies in the last three weeks in residential estates around Nyeri and Karatina towns.
One month ago, a student of Nyeri National Polytechnic was robbed of a laptop at gunpoint in Ring Road estate.
Police officers on patrol engaged the robbers in a gunfight but they managed to escape.
They are reported to have run into Kandara estate, taking advantage of the large tenancy to find an escape route.
This, according to police, is a common tactic used by armed criminals to avoid being shot.
“Police officers cannot continue firing live bullets in a densely populated area because innocent people could get injured in the shootout. The criminals know this and they try to use it to their advantage,” said Mr Masai Makau, the Nyeri town divisional police boss.
One week ago, a sugarcane vender fell casualty to a stray bullet in yet another gunfight between police and the same criminals in Nyeri Town.
Detectives from the Flying Squad had laid an ambush on one of the criminals’ hideouts in Witemere slums adjacent to Nyeri Town.
The criminals, however, reiterated by opening fire on the officers as a chase ensued.
One of the suspects tried to evade the detectives by running through the Baden Powell memorial grounds.
Shortly, the chase turned into a hostage situation as one of the suspects grabbed a mechanic and used him as a human shield.
However, a resident bravely tackled the suspect giving the detectives a window to arrest him.
The suspect, identified as Joseph Kang’ethe, has been on the police most wanted list for the last eight years.
He was being sought for allegedly shooting and killing Othaya DCIO, Jonah Kimanzi Nzau in 2009.
He was also wanted for multiple armed robberies in Nyeri and Karatina.
The other three suspects managed to escape into the neighbouring Majengo slums.
Barely two days later, the thugs were back in business, this time targeting a money agent in Skuta Estate.
But the robbery attempt was thwarted by brave residents who were baying for their blood.
Armed with stones and other crude weapons, the resident charged on the armed robbers who responded by firing several rounds at them.
Police officers who were patrolling the area pursued the suspects after hearing gunshots.
As in previous cases, the gang managed to escape.
Over the weekend the same gang is said to have robbed a popular entertainment joint at gunpoint but managed to escape as soon as police arrived.
They are also believed to be part of a gang that were caught on surveillance cameras robbing a shop in the town.
Police have placed the elusive gang at the top of the most wanted list in the area, terming them as very dangerous.
The thugs have also been linked to violent crimes in parts of Nairobi and are said to be using Nyeri slums as their hideouts.
“We are not dealing with armatures. These people are armed and very dangerous so business owners and residents should be vigilant,” said Mr Makau.
He, however, reassured that the police service was working to apprehend the suspects and restore security in the town which has had a long history of violent crimes.
The upsurge in violent crime prompted the replacement of top police bosses in the town and the deployment of the Quick Response Team, a rapid response unit from the Administration Police.