Seven people suspected to be part of a ring that breaks into houses and vandalise public infrastructures, have been arrested in separate Police operations conducted in the City of Kigali.
They were paraded on Friday at Kigali Metropolitan offices in Remera.
Police spokesperson for the City of Kigali, Senior Supt. Emmanuel Hitayezu said some of the suspects were arrested in crime while others were taken into custody after some suspects cooperated with Police investigations and named their accomplices.
Assorted electronics, including flat television screens, home theaters, sound speakers, computers and expensive mobile phones were also recovered from the suspects or from the electronic shops in Kigali where they had been sold.
Also recovered were manhole covers vandalised from Water and Sanitation Corporation (WASAC) water control points in various parts of Kigali.
Some of the suspects were open to interact with the media on how they would break into houses at night.
One of the suspects said that together with his accomplice still at large, on February 25 at about 3am, they drilled a hole in one of their targeted houses as occupants were asleep, and stole a flat screen.
“I can’t recall how many times I have stolen things, sometimes breaking into houses either during the day or night. But in most cases I have been arrested in the act,” he said.
The suspect was arrested by night patrols with the television set the same night of the theft.
Another suspect, said he works with other two people to vandalise and steal WASAC manhole covers, which they sell as scraps.
“A kilogramme of metal scraps is sold at Rwf100, and this is how we came up with the idea of looking for scraps that weigh high,” he said. A manhole cover weighs about 30kgs.
He said they had already stolen eight covers by the time of his arrest with one of them.
In almost each of the cases, there was a motorcyclist involved to transport them, according to the suspects.
Jean Musabyeyezu, WASAC Kacyiru branch manager, said that manhole covers and water pipes are some of the infrastructures that are mainly vandalised by thieves, leading the government into losses and affecting water distribution.
“These manholes are like water control centres. When these covers are stolen, any person can tamper with water distribution. The covers are expensive but again it also becomes an issue of security when these manholes are open because a person can fall in leading to loss of lives,” Musabyeyezu said.
Victims given their recovered items
Meanwhile, some of the victims who received their recovered electronics thanked Police and community night patrols after receiving their gadgets.
Senior Supt. Hitayezu warned of continued operations against both thieves and those who deal in stolen items.
“We have many electronics in our stores here, and we appeal to victims to always come here and check if theirs are among those recovered,” he said.
He, however, said that the challenge they face is that some victims can’t produce proof of ownership.
“People should buy from recognised stores, keep receipts or at least mark their items, which also helps the Police,” he said.