Monday, February 11, 2008

Game Store Lugogo and Kampala's "considerate" thieves

This is an e-mail I had the grace of receiving in my inbox and apart from the humour and pithy writing, I have no other reason to blog it on here. Enjoy!

I am duty bound to share my latest experience with you.

Warning: If you next visit Kampala and must shop at the sparkly looking Game Store at Lugogo, ensure you leave no valuables, especially your laptop, in your car. A racket of thieves operating within the parking yard will break in and steal it. At the end of your shopping, you will realise your door lock has been tampered and valuables - electronics in particular - stolen. Laptops are the magnet for thieves here! The ubiquitous presence of the KK security guards is deceptive. Very mediocre. The thieves operate in plain sight!

That's what just happened to me around 18.30 hours. I parked by the Blue Cruise Taxis under the pylons over looking Rwenzori Coffee House. I went into the Game store to check paint prices within a matter of 10 minutes. Upon return, all the taxis I left there had vanished! The guard near by feigned ignorance. To cut the story short, his supervisor and later the on-field security commander whom they called to attend to this nagging customer were no better - except doing the unimaginable; to allege that my car was burgled else where. They casually recommended that I go and report the case to Jinja Road Police.

The latter I did. How much help I got? I leave it to your guess work. Now to the good news which makes you think how different Kampala's thieves have evolved and differentiated themselves from their East African counterparts, especially in Nairobi. I wouldnt blame you for giving them a thumbs up if you have the misfortune of going through this episode. Call it stealing responsibly or being simply cheeky, they called me in the afternoon and told me to go to a church (a pentecostal) off Gayaza Road Round About ("ku biiri") and check in a rubbish skip near the King Loaf bakery and that was where I was to recover my "valuable documents"! Together with a driver we left swiftly and rummaged through the mess watched by curious boda bodas, car washers, SPC police etc.

I am sure the thieves whoever they are were keenly watching us and having a hearty laugh at the sight of smartly clad people going through a rubbish bin! The most valuable document was my passports which (as I had just arrived from Nairobi the previous night) were still intact in the side pocket plus others -cheque books, CD roms and other bank instruments. All intact, sorted and well secured from the filth in a double glazed polythene bag which I have kept in my office in case my CID 'helpers' ever think it necessary to finger print for evidence. I smiled and praised their "kindness" despite the fact that my laptop and two very old disused cellphones I only use as a directory (even forgot they exist) were gone! I understand that with some informal contact with street wise "Seyas", the lap top too may surface in equally more dramatic scenes!

I have learnt that in the last 10 days there have been about 8 such reported cases at the same place with more less similar conclusion. The most comical is of a British couple who were travelling the next day. Their passorts were returned as soon as the thieves learnt of their victims' urgent travel. My Egyptian workmate who is less than two months in the country had his dropped outside the DFCU branch on Acacia Avenue after a similar call!

Clearly, the KK Guards at Game Lugogo and the Blue Cruise cab drivers know something the unsuspecting shopper doesn't. So on your next visit, save your selves the embarrassment of having to rummage through a waste bin by keeping your guard up if you must shop at GAME!




Anonymous said...

thank you so much for sharing your experiences
my comment about electronic theft is that the owners need to learn to turn off wireless connectivity as they shut down
but are we sure this person was at game or shoprite? Game is usually closed by 1800hrs during week days and 1500hrs on weekends

Sydney said...

Yeah, i am agreed with this article and Thankyou so much for your precious article and suggestion. I think your comment about electronic theft is that the owners need to learn to turn off wireless connectivity as they shut down but are we sure this person was at game or shoprite? Game is usually closed by 1800hrs during week days and 1500hrs on weekends. Great post i look forward to reading more.
Laptop Computers

Charlie Gehrke said...

I am living in Kampala and the same happened to me. We moved from Goma/Congo in February 2009, upon arrival I parked 10 m in front of an armed stationary guard in front of the exchange bureau. It was sunday, only 30% of parking cars, the parking was crowded with Security. When I came back 2 of them stood close to my car, my doors open, pretending that nothing has happened and they heven't seen anything. Definately the KK Security guards are involved, they look out for values and give hints to the thieves. It is impossible at any place of the parking to break a car without minimum 3 KK Security guards watching it, they are definately payed for not taking notice.
Later police investigation was nothing but a joke.
Take care
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