Cameroon: Pickpockets Invade Yaounde Streets
Cameroon Tribune (Yaoundé)
April 12, 2007
Taxi drivers are the target of the new breed of bandits.
Its 10:30 am in Yaounde. The famous Avenue Kennedy is as busy as usual. Teponno Martin, (49) a taxi driver in Yaounde, finds it difficult to collect pick up passengers. He can barely hear the destinations of passengers because all the car windows are winded up. It is normal. There are pick pockets around. He recounts that he has been a victim of robbery twice. In the first incident, the sum of CFA 5000 was stolen from his vehicle. According to him, the children surround the vehicle and use tactics to distract the driver and before he knows it, they have made away with any thing they can lay hands on.
A lady (names unknown) is also reported to have lost the sum of CFA 1.8 million at the same venue last December 2006. Eyewitness reports say, the lady was deceived by the street children that she had crushed the leg of one of them. Before she could get out of her car to help the alleged victim, the thieves had made away with her handbag which was at the passenger side of the vehicle. Movement of people and vehicle has become risky in the area which is the busiest part of the town. Some individuals have taken to pick pocketing as a means of earning a living. Usually, street children are accused of such irresponsible acts. The busy nature of the area gives an opportunity for thieves to carryout their dangerous acts. Taxi drivers are the target of such hideous activites.
Despite the presence of a police post in the place, no one seems to be scared. According to Police Officer, Awomo Augustine of the Police Post, several cases of pick pocketing are reported daily in the police post. He however explained that the pickpockets are not only street children. Most of the hawkers who sell items such as second hand telephones around are also pickpockets. "Street children participate rarely in such acts. In most cases they are in complicity with these people who loiter around", he said. "These children steal money to buy food and also shoe gum which they inhale as drug," he added. According to him, when cases are brought to them they are sent to the first Police station where procedures are followed for legal action. He said private car owners are more exposed to such acts. He therefore appealed to all car owners to wind up their glasses when passing around the area especially at the traffic light, be more vigilant and to watch out for shouts of people who are out to deceive them.
According to another Police Officer, Mboudwe Joseph, of the Centre Provincial Division of the Judicial Police (DPPJC), cases of pick pocketing are transferred to the different police stations for court procedure. He said cases that are not serious are dealt with at the police station but the difficult ones are handled at the Centre Provincial Division of the Judicial Police.