Kampala — Police has warned the public to be alert on high-tech equipment robbers use to detect valuables such as laptops and expensive mobile phones when traveling in public transport vehicles.
Robbers who disguised themselves as taxi operators earlier this week robbed a New Vision journalist of his laptop worth sh2.4m.
"You should be very vigilant when boarding a taxi because thugs use gadgets that can detect laptops and expensive mobile phones," Westley Nganizi, the Jinja Road Divisional Police Commander said.
The target said he boarded a commuter taxi at a stage near Jinja Road Police Station in Kampala at 8:00pm.
He explained that he saw the vehicle full of 'passengers'. So naturally, no amount of suspicion lingered in his mind that it was in any way a trap. He took a front seat, with his laptop secured inside a black bag next to him.
And then the moment of the trickery came around.
He was told to assist and close the door using both his hands, and the man seated next to the driver offered to hold the laptop bag for him as he closed the door.
Then somehow, in the middle of that unsuspecting scenario, the man working stealthily with the driver to remove his laptop from the bag and replace it with a slab of stone weighing about 2kg.
All this happened in that instant - behind the victim's bag.
The thugs then forced him out of the vehicle after traveling a short distance, of course with the satisfaction that their operation was successful. And still, the journalist had not noticed anything yet.
He was not that much curious why he was being driven out so harshly just before the Lugogo bypass next to Shoprite/Game shopping arcade yet he had not reached his destination.
"On reaching home I opened the bag so as to start working. I was shocked to see inside the bag a big stone.
"I remained composed and called Judith Nabakooba, the Police spokesperson who later gave me the telephone number of the DPC of Jinja Road Police Station," he said.
His is not the only such case though.
Police recently intercepted a racket of robbers masquerading as taxi operators but steal passengers' valuables.
Such thugs operate along routes from Kampala to Ntinda, Bweyogerere, Kamwokya and Bwaise.
"You should always endeavor to get the number plate of a vehicle or taxi you are boarding so that if theft of a valuable item occurs, we [the Police] should be able to trace it," Nganizi said.
"You should be observant of a taxi you are boarding and hold your laptop against your chest."
The journalist explained that the laptop contained valuable data which included digital photos of numerous assignments both within Uganda and outside the country, news story archives and other valuable information.
The HP laptop model G62 grey in colour has a serial number CNFO23F78H if anyone comes across it should report to any Police Station or call mobile telephone 0772586521 (the journalist's contact).