In Kenya’s latest daring bank heist, robbers stole as yet uncounted millions from Habib Bank on Koinange Street at the weekend. But they took their time to eat githeri, beef, rice, chicken and chips.
They left behind Sh41 million because their welding torches could not open the strong room. They are believed to have spent 24 hours in the bank and they did extensive damage with their torches, police said.
The heist was not discovered until yesterday morning when staff arrived and found the safes broken into. There wasn’t much evidence, except bits of food — and the criminals almost certainly wore gloves. There are unlikely to be fingerprints.
Police were shocked at the sophistication of the robbery. DCI chief Ireri Kamwende and Nairobi Police Chief Joseph ole Tito visited the bank as investigations and staff questioning began.
Tito told journalist that by yesterday afternoon the bank was still reconciling its books to determine the amount stolen. He said the sum would be announced.
“This was well-planned and executed and an easy job for the criminals,” Tito said. Police said the criminals gained access to the bank through a rear door; it was not known if the door was forced or a key was used. They went to the second floor where they disabled the alarm system and tossed blankets over CCTV cameras before they destroyed them.
Then they used gas welding torches to open safes but not the strong room. A welding torch was left behind. The number of robbers was not known and security guards were unaware until yesterday morning.
Police said collusion between bank staff and criminals could not be ruled out. In 2016, Equity bank in Kayole lost Sh26 million after robbers used similar tactics and welding torches to break into the bank’s safes. They were arrested.