Economy

Gang makes off with guns, cash in daring Equity bank heist

Equity Bank

An Equity Bank's branch. The lender's branch in Matuu was attacked by thugs on July 27, 2021.

Summary

  • The robbers, dressed in trench coats and armed with pistols, are believed to have earlier positioned themselves near the bank.
  • According to witnesses, the gang struck the moment the two armed officers were separated.
  • The two officers were seated together near the bank entrance, before the male officer entered the banking hall, leaving his female colleague outside.

Police in Machakos County were last Tuesday looking for five armed criminals who robbed the Equity Bank branch in Matuu town and stole guns from the police officers guarding it.

The robbers, dressed in trench coats and armed with pistols, are believed to have earlier positioned themselves near the bank, where they monitored the movements of the two policemen guarding it, before attacking and snatching their loaded guns.

According to witnesses, the gang struck the moment the two armed officers were separated. The two officers were seated together near the bank entrance, before the male officer entered the banking hall, leaving his female colleague outside.

The female officer was suddenly attacked by three gangsters, who snatched her AK-47 assault rifle with 30 rounds of ammunition.

The gang then entered the banking hall where they confronted the other police officer, pointing guns at him and ordering him to surrender, as customers scampered for safety.

“A scuffle ensued where they kicked him on his private parts as he resisted their attempts to snatch the gun,” said a woman who was selling groceries across the street.

CCTV footage shows the uniformed officer identified as Patrick Omusebe struggling with the robbers at the bank’s entrance. He finally lost the gun, also loaded with 30 rounds of ammunition.

According to a police report on the mid-morning heist that was reported at Matuu Police Station by Equity bank branch manager Michael Muriithi Gachanja, under Occurrence Book Reference number 15/27/07/2021, the male officer sustained bruises on his hands and was complaining of pain in his private parts.

“His female colleague (Ms Dorothy Opili) also suffered injuries on her hips and bruises on her left hand. Both officers were taken to Matuu Level 4 hospital for treatment and were said to be in stable condition” the police report read in part.

After overpowering the two police officers, the gang ordered everyone in the banking hall, including dozens of students who were queuing to deposit school fees, to lie down.

At least five customers reported to have lost money to the gang, and an unknown amount of cash was taken from one of the bank tellers.

The robbery took about 10 minutes, with the gang escaping on foot through a nearby residential estate.

A security team, in response to the alarm raised, arrived shortly thereafter, but the officers were repulsed by gunfire from inside the bank.

“For about 15 minutes there was heavy gunfight between our officers and the gangsters who later managed to escape. One of the thieves was shot but managed to escape,” said Matuu police commander Mary Njoki.

An alert issued by the police in Machakos after the incident reads: "All commanders are on high alert this morning at Matuu Equity Bank. We had a robbery where our officers were robbed of their firearms.”

"OCS Matuu is in hot pursuit. The robbers are on foot, they may use motorbikes to escape from our areas. Cascade the same to all officers on the ground," adds the police communication.

Equity Bank issued a statement confirming the robbery, saying no one was injured and that the bank vaults were not accessed.

“Kindly note that we had a distress incident this morning about unauthorised access to the banking hall of our Matuu branch. Security agents, led by local authorities, are on the scene investigating the incident,” said the bank’s statement.

Senior police officers from the region, led by Machakos County Commander Issa Mohamoud, rushed to the bank, which was cordoned off.