TECHNOLOGY

The new detective in town: How DCI is using tech to crack crime

The unit has resolved over 50 serious crimes that had remained unresolved for decades.

In Summary

• The unit is currently concentrating on terrorism, corruption, money laundering, drug trafficking, organized crime, robberies, kidnappings and cybercrime.

• The unit has enabled the DCI to be ahead of perpetrators of modern-day complex crimes.

A screen shot of a forensic expert at the National Police Service Forensic Laboratory at the DCI Headquarters
A screen shot of a forensic expert at the National Police Service Forensic Laboratory at the DCI Headquarters

In July last year, Dutch tycoon Tob Cohen was reported missing.

This is after the former Philips Electronics East Africa chairman Cohen complained of harassment and denial of his conjugal rights by his estranged wife.

Cohen, 71, was reported missing on July 19 but Directorate of Criminal Investigation detectives failed to locate him.

 

Cohen's wife Sarah Wairimu had claimed that her husband had travelled to Thailand for urgent medical attention but a source at the Immigration Department said they had combed through all passenger manifestos for outbound flights for possible dates but Cohen's name was not in any.

The senior official said Cohen was still in the country as there was no evidence indicating that he had left through any of the official exit points.

His phone was reported to be off since he went missing.

After sleepless nights for the DCI as they tried to crack the mystery around Cohen's whereabouts, his body was discovered two months later dumped in a septic tank at his residence.

Director of Criminal Investigations George Kinoti described the murder as gruesome, saying the killers took their time to commit the crime.

Kinoti said Cohen was bound face, hands, neck before he was murdered with a postmortem revealing that the killers smashed his skull, dislocated his leg and broke his hands as he struggled.

Detectives carry the body of Dutch tycoon Tob Cohen at Farasi Lane in Spring Valley on Friday, September 13, 2019.
Detectives carry the body of Dutch tycoon Tob Cohen at Farasi Lane in Spring Valley on Friday, September 13, 2019.
Image: DOUGLAS OKIDDY

In the debut edition of 'The DCI' newsletter, Kinoti says Cohen's murder is just an example of complex cases he and his officers have to crack on a daily basis.

 

Kinoti said if it were not for the Crime Research and Intelligence Bureau (CRIB) unit, such a breakthrough would not have come forth.

The CRIB is a team of elite detectives that operate under firm and strict instructions to resolve complex decades-old crimes through the use of new technology including DNA, forensics, ballistics, crime research and criminal profiling.

The National Police Service has been on the spot over the years for laxity in responding to emergency calls.

This has in most cases left many residents across the country exposed to criminal activities by well-coordinated gangs.

These gangs after striking, disappear into thin air until their next attack, leaving crime detectives scratching their heads.

For instance, in 2012, a United Nations diplomat and a Dutch journalist were killed in Nairobi's Gigiri area.

The trail of the suspected killers soon went cold and all leads didn’t yield anything substantial.

A few months later, a daring gang carried out a robbery at Citizen TV’s Director of Strategy and Innovation Linus Kaikai’s residence in Nkoroi in Kajiado County and once again, the police were unable to arrest any suspects in connection with the robbery.

A screen shot of the cover page of the newsletter
A screen shot of the cover page of the newsletter

About 150 kilometres from Nairobi, members of a gang that detectives soon discovered was known as Wikililye gang attacked Festus Wambua’s shop at Nguuni market.

Armed with a gun, pangas and a metal rod, they beat up the shopkeeper before robbing him of Sh70,000, three mobile phones and airtime worth Sh80,000.

The robbers then fired in the air to scare away residents before escaping in their getaway car towards Kitui.

Kinoti says with homicide and organized crimes in the country becoming more complex and even harder to solve, he noticed the gaps in terms of crime research that impaired seriously on criminal intelligence and general crime management in the country.

It is from here that he decided to take action.

In April 2018, he personally undertook the task of establishing and overseeing the formation of the Crime Research and Intelligence Bureau.

Based at the DCI headquarters, the team set off by jointly developing a web-based Crime Information System (CRIS) with developers from the Information and Communication Technology Authority (ICTA).

The system links all DCI offices countrywide and has a comprehensive criminal database for all offenders both known and unknown. As a tech-savvy unit, the team immediately embarked on collecting intelligence and evidence from scenes of crime, analyzing the data, conducting criminal profiling and research on crime patterns.

The team also started liaising with investigative and operational units by providing analytical assistance.

Armed with new information, the unit embarked on attempts to crack a trail of complex old crime cases that had gone cold.

According to the newsletter, the first case to crack was the eight-man gang that had terrorized Nairobi and surrounding counties more than ten years ago.

"Relying on research, profiling and ballistics evidence, the unit arrested four members of the gang with the remaining four still on the run," reads part of the interview.

The four were taken around the five counties for identification parades and then arraigned on robbery with violence, kidnapping and murder charges The next gang to be brought to book was the Wikililye gang.

At about 7.45pm on November 10, 2019, a gang attacked a trader at Nguuni market.

Detectives arrived at the scene of crime and later intercepted a car at Wikililye about 50 kilometres from the robbery scene with four occupants The Detectives recovered a Pachet sub-machine gun with three rounds of 9mm, a mobile phone and two machetes.

When the machine gun and spent cartridges were taken for ballistic and forensic examination, it was established that the same gang had been involved in a similar robbery at Yongela market on November 9, 2019 at about 9.30pm.

Ballistic and forensic evidence yet again linked the same gang to a robbery with violence incident at Kisasi filling station on October 28, 2019.

The gang was also linked to an October 23, 2019 robbery where Onesmus Munyao and his wife Angelina Kanyiva were accosted at about 10.30pm as they were entering their Kasevi village home at Mbitini in Kisasi sub-county, Kitui County.

They were confronted by a six-man gang armed with a rifle and other crude weapons and robbed of Sh46,000 and six mobile phones. The gangsters fired five times in the air as they escaped.

Kinoti says the unit identified the Wikililye gang members as Peter Musyoka, Nicholas Musembi and Anthony Nzula who had just been released from the Kamiti Maximum Security prison when they served a jail term for robbery with violence.

According to the DCI boss, further analysis of evidence gathered from the crime scenes CRIB detectives linked the Wikililye gang to the November 17, 2013 murder of Australian national Patrick Richer in Runda estate and Thomas Gwandaru who was shot in the head in Gigiri and died on January 12, 2017.

A crime research expert at the National Police Service Laboratory
A crime research expert at the National Police Service Laboratory

"Although the unit has only been in existence for slightly over two years, it has been remarkably committed to its call of duty and is carrying out extensive research and profiling various criminal gangs across the country with tremendous success," he said.

Kinoti says he is impressed with the meticulous nature of the unit’s work which is truly re-defining the parameters of complex modern-day crime investigation in our country through the use of intelligence-based crime research, analysis and relevant technology.

“My goal with the establishment of this unit is to ensure that no crime ever goes unresolved. Evidence collected from crime scenes will undergo forensic, DNA and ballistic analysis to speedily assist investigating officers with their work," he said.

He added, "For a long time, police have stuck to the archaic procedures to resolve criminal cases, some of which have remained unresolved for decades. On the other hand, criminals are embracing technology in committing murders, cyber crimes and fraud. This will now be a thing of the past".

Today it is mandatory for police officers to collect spent cartridges, soil and DNA samples and triangulate mobile phone locations to place suspects at crime scenes.

The unit is currently concentrating on terrorism, corruption, money laundering, drug trafficking, organized crime, robberies, kidnappings and cybercrime.

Kinoti says the creation of this unit has indeed enabled the DCI to be always ahead of perpetrators of modern-day complex crimes and has resolved more than fifty serious crimes that had hitherto remained unresolved for decades.