Gangs raiding homes and conducting high-grade robberies have devised new ways to beat police dragnets, including using number plates.
In January 2023 alone, the country recorded over three cases where suspects used fake or number plate stickers to conceal their cars' identities.
Other cases involved switching number plates, using fake number plates, foreign plates, unauthorised plates, and some using number plate stickers to commit crimes.
On Monday, January 9, police officers intercepted two trucks in Loitoktok in Kajiado County while transporting 72,000 litres of contraband ethanol from Tanzania.
The officers impounded the trucks with fake number plates near Tarakea border point. To beat police dragnet, the lorries had both Kenyan and Tanzania number plates.
"The trucks' registration numbers were concealed with those of foreign number plates," police indicated.
On Saturday, January 14, cops in Kericho also exposed another crime syndicate using number plates to enable them to commit crime.
Four suspected were arrested in Kericho town, and their vehicle with a fake number plate was impounded in attempted robberies at two business premises.
Yet in another instance, Directorate of Criminal Investigation (DCI) officers apprehended three suspects in Githurai 44 for robbing residents.
During the raid, DCI officers recovered number plate stickers which they allegedly used to conceal their car identity during operations.
"A search conducted in their car led to the recovery of forged number plate stickers," DCI stated.
The spike in crime rates with suspects using number plates peaked around 2020. In December 2020, the National Transport and Safety Authority (NTSA) impounded vehicles using unauthorised plates.
"Several motor vehicles impounded and owners arrested in Kwale County following a crackdown against the use of unprescribed identification plates. We urge motor vehicle owners to cease using the illegal plates failure to which they will be prosecuted," NTSA statement read in part.
In December 2021, police also impounded a man in Kirinyaga for driving a car for four years without a number plate.
The suspect confessed to police that he bought the vehicle number plate from a motor vehicle scrapyard in Athi River in 2018 after failing to register the vehicle that originally had number plates from a neighbouring country.
To tame spike in crime rates using number plates, the government unveiled digital number plates. The New Generation plates were incorporated with microchip technology and several anti-counterfeit security features that render them practically impossible to imitate.
Besides the unique template, the new plates have a specially-imprinted national flag, a hologram imprinted, and a watermark.
They also have unique and different serial numbers – for both the rear and front plates – that are linked to the vehicle’s chassis number.
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