Beware of the man in a mask
The aftermath of an attack by armed robbers on victims do not only affect them materially but emotionally and mentally, says Beatrice Azuke, as she recalls her chilling experience to this portal.
“It was about 1am when we heard somebody knock on our door. Without knowing who that person was, we heard a voice telling us to open the door and that they were armed robbers.
“Being startled by that statement, I immediately rushed to my parents’ bedroom to find out what we could do. The voice came again and before we realized, they had forced open our back door which leads to the kitchen and entered our corridor leading to our bedrooms.
They were four armed men, but three entered while the other one wielding a weapon that looked like a pump action gun, stood outside to survey the area. One out of the three armed men immediately ordered us to lie on the floor with our face down.
While he watched over us with a gun pointing at our heads, the two others entered our rooms to collect valuables of their choice. After collecting the items, one of them who could be about 21 years, like the age of my junior brother, ordered my dad to show him where the money was. Unfortunately for us, my dad on that fateful day went to the bank to cash some money to settle the payment of some workers on his farmland at Adjen Kotoku.
The amount involved was GHC3,000. My dad initially wanted to resist them but one of the robbers, who is huge and heavily built, gave him some hefty slaps and even threatened to shoot him if he dared refuse to bring out the money.
My mum at this point begged my dad to get them whatever they wanted so that they could go.
The suspects then collected the cash, two laptops, four mobile phones, two tablets, a flat screen television set, the wedding rings of my parents, and some of my mum's expensive jewels before leaving.
Beatrice after describing the terrifying moments with the armed robbers added that she had never had such an experience before in her life.
She bemoaned, “I have never witnessed such a thing in my life, they were like four men, all fully armed with guns and pointing them at us and I can still picture them in my mind.”
Thank God no one was hurt, but they collected our phones and money,” she ended, heaving a sigh of relief.
While I listened to her ordeal, I remembered four Innocent and promising victims who lost their lives through the activities of these hoodlums while looking for their daily bread.
The memory of the Member of Parliament for Mfantseman Constituency, in the Central Region, Ekow Quansah Hayford, who was shot dead by some armed robbers, while returning from a campaign grounds as well as Emmanuel Kwarteng, a young promising a petrol attendant of Ashalaja in the Ga West Municipality who was shot dead at his work place, and finally a taxi driver named Samuel Tawiah, who was also killed by some police turned armed robbers at Adjen Kotoku and others came to mind.
The following morning, I booked an appointment with the Public Relations Officer of the Accra Regional Police Command, DSP Efia Tenge to educate us on how best we can protect ourselves from these criminals and what the police were doing to also protect us.
Personal Security at home
She said it is imperative for everybody to be security conscious everywhere we find ourselves.
She said, for instance, in our various homes, we have to make sure that our windows and doors have burglar proofs fixed on them.”
When sleeping, our inside lights must be off but leave the outside lights on.
We must also fortify our back doors especially those leading to the kitchen since that is where most robbers use as their entry points. There is also the need to make sure that all doors are properly locked before going to bed,” she added.
DSP Tenge said individuals with vehicles must also make sure that they have vehicle tracking device fix on them since that helps the police trace stolen and robbed cars.
“Do not just park your vehicle in front of your gate with the ignition on to open the gate since that will give the criminals following you an advantage to just jump into the car and move.”
She said there is the need for individuals to avoid keeping huge sums of money and other valuables exposed in their vehicles since that attracts the attention of criminals.
“When individuals park their vehicle, they should ensure that it is properly locked before they leave and finally, when individuals realize that they are being trailed, that person must drive to the nearest police station instead of their homes.
Safety of commercial drivers
She said commercial drivers especially taxi drivers must be vigilant while on the road and ensure that they are not hired to areas that they are not familiar with at odd hours.
“When you are hired by two or three men at night to an area, you are not familiar with, if possible, decline that offer or secretly call on the police for assistance.
She cautioned drivers to be careful when they are asked by a passenger to stop at a point where the area is bushy or pick another person on the way, since their vehicles could be snatched from there.
“In such instances, the passenger may have planted somebody at that point to help him attack you so you must be careful,” she added.
Know the police contact numbers
DSP Tenge narrated that; every resident of an area must know at least the contact number and the location of the nearest police station in their locality.
“At least, once a while, just pass by and visit your district or divisional commanders and get their contacts.
Create that rapport with the commanders and this will enable you to report suspicious characters you find roaming in your area to the police.
If for some reasons, the commanders are not available, the next person to contact is his crime officer or station officer.
In instances where you need advice on personal security, you can contact them as well, since they were posted there for your safety.”
The piece of information you give to the police about the hide out of these criminals can save a potential victim. All one need to do is to visit the police station closer to that area, ask the commander, crime officer or any senior police officer in charge, and confidentially tell the police officer about hide out the the criminal.
You can also give an anonymous call to the station to report that criminal to the police but, do not go bragging after the person has been arrested, otherwise, his cronies can attack you. Be discreet after giving out the information and also remember that the reward package of GHC2,000 is available to any person who gives out information leading to the arrest of criminals by the police administration.
Finally remember to call the crime fighters number,18555 OR 122 OR 191 for prompt response
What to do in a robbery attack
Commission of Police, Christian Tetteh Yohuno, now director general in charge of Special Duties who has experience in the fight against armed robbery in the capital also shared some of his experience with DGN.
It would be recalled that during his tenure as the Accra Regional Police Commander he championed the arrest of notorious armed robbers like Spider, Mathias, and others within the municipality.
He said when a gang of armed men attack a person's house, one must comply with their instruction to be safe.
“Know that the men standing before you are first of all armed, and are also on drugs, so comply and cooperate with them in order to be safe,” he said.
He continued that what armed robbers dislike are victims who challenge them or prove difficult.
Adding that “they can either harm or kill you if you dare do that and since life is precious. When they ask you to lie on the floor, just obey them but be smart to steal a glance at them periodically if they are not masked.”
He said victims can take note of their attackers body features including marks and other defects.
He warned, “Do not let them know that you are looking at them, otherwise, they can kill you.”
If they are masked, look out for their body color, physique and their height.”
He urged victims to always let armed criminals leave their premises before they call the police.
“In some instances too, the best person to call when robbers invade your home is a neigbour and not the police. Tell your neigbour who is not under attack at that moment to call the police instead of you. Your neigbour can give the police, the right directions to your house and by the time the robbers realize, the police are already there to save the situation.”
Citing an example, COP Yohuno said, a victim once gave a distress call to the police that his household was under attack.
While on their way to the house, the police patrol team missed the route and had to call back for redirection.
At that moment, the robbers had gain access to the room and had ordered the victims to lie on the floor.
When the mobile phone of the victim rang, one of the armed robbers who realized that it was the police calling answered the call and redirected the patrol team to a different location.
By the time the patrol team finally located the area, the robbers had already fled. It was later that the police realized that, where they made the call was even closer to the house where the victims were under attack.
So you see, if a neighbor had called the police, the team would have pounced on the robbers instead.
COP Isaac Ken Yeboah, DG CID.
He also recalled a situation where several houses were robbed by armed robbers in an area simultaneously at Amanfrom but none of the residents boarded to call the police to report the matter until the last person was also robbed.
He said, “We must be each other's keeper and not think it is party A who has been attacked so I do not care; by the time you realized, they are also in your house robbing you.”
He urged robbery victims to always attend identification parades.
“It is a must for victims of armed robbery to attend identification parades when they hear that armed robbers have been arrested by the police.
Maybe, one of your attackers may be among the arrested robbers and this can help the police in their prosecution.
Once a while, you can also pass by the police station in your area to check if they have arrested any armed robber and ask for the dates and time where identification parades will be conducted.
COP Christian Tetteh-Yohuno, DG Special Duties
There have also been instances where counter Non Commissioned Officers (NCOs) become rude to victims who try to do the right thing, just do not worry and see the senior police officer available,” he concluded.
The Director General of the Criminal Investigation Department, COP Isaac Ken Yeboah, has confirmed that several persons are now in possession of firearms without authority of late.
He said these persons had their weapons from our neigbouring countries that were recently hit by wars.
“Even though calm has been restored in these countries, some of their weapons used had found themselves in the country and in the wrong hands but with the help of individuals, the police and other stakeholders can help arrest those with the weapons before they fall into the wrong hands.
“The police cannot do this alone, individuals must also help since crime fighting is a collective responsibility”, he stated.