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Opinions of Saturday, 22 January 2011

Columnist: Alpha, Shaban Barani

The Nkrumah Circle mafioso, a phone snatching syndicate

*Opinion: The Nkrumah Circle mafioso, a phone snatching syndicate*

Transport is a very essential part of our everyday endeavour. The simple
fact that not all Ghanaians can own private vehicles has made public
transport a medium that most Ghanaians love to hate considering that they
cannot avoid it on a daily basis.

The hustle and bustle that accompanies the use of public transport ranges
from discomfort on board some vehicles, sycophantic attitude of some
driver’s mate etc. but the thought alone of getting home to get rest scares
most motorists considering the grim prospect of losing your possession in an
effort to get home, this is at the hands of a well orchestrated gang at
Kwame Nkrumah Circle.

Yes! The crime wave in the capital may have assumed dizzying proportions.
The different dimensions of crime ranges from gun point and knife attacks,
burglary, cyber crime/419, swindling of people and snatching of valuables
amongst several other diabolic acts.

More damning is the modus operandi these criminals employ especially under
the cover of darkness. All valuables (i.e. phones, jewellery, wallets, handy
gadgets etc.) are under threat of being snatched by a well organized crime
ring (Mafioso) at the Nkrumah Circle.

The area under the purview of this piece is the Circle – Achimota, Dome,
Taifa, Bureau, Amasaman, Nsawam, Lapaz station, particularly the area
stretching from under the overhead bridge to the front of the Circle clinic.
At about 5pm the area is so much packed with passengers in search for cars
back home so much so that the hitherto three-lane street is barely reduced
to a single lane with passengers sprawling on two lanes and by so doing
competing with on-coming vehicles, all this while throwing all caution of
being knocked down by vehicles to the wind.

The general atmosphere all through the day is usually a cacophony of sounds
emanating from deep down the voice boxes of conductors (mates), the scruffy
shouts of “uncontracted” car loading contractors, mixed with the squeaks and
creaks of rickety vehicles, shrill and serenading voices of female vendors
and the tooting of horns as drivers trade invectives among themselves.

In the mix of all the voices, screams and shouts of "thief! thief!, catch
him he's robbed me" and many such cries are heard from some unfortunate and
unaware victims whose NOKIA, MOTOROLA, PHILLIPS, LG, SAGEM,SENDO and other
phone brands irrespective of value and network would have been in wrongful

One such victim of the Mafia’s criminal escapades is Ana, who laments how
she lost her phone; "I locked the side zip of my hand bag after receiving a
call, only to realize it had been opened. Again I quickly zipped it as I
waited in earnest for the next vehicle heading for my destination.

Eventually, one did come and as usual, people crammed at the door to take
seats. It was when I took my seat that I realized my zip was for the second
time opened. Quickly I checked to be sure of my phone. It was gone. I got
off the vehicle, raised an alarm and chased after him as he skipped the
concrete balustrade that divided the street. He went through the Orion
compound and behind the mosque; he vanished into the jaws of the pitch dark

Several other young men – all part of the grand mafia plan - surrounded me
asking me what had happened, whereas others advised I'd better forget it
because it was gone" Ana stood absolutely exasperated and crestfallen by
events but that was the reality of things that transpired day in and out at
the Nkrumah circle.

Amazingly, some lucky victims have retrieved their valuables on the spot.
How you may ask? The criminals are an organized ring whose job starts
immediately one “strikes” a target with success. The stolen item is quickly
passed on from one person to the other, then to another. By the time it
reaches the fifth person, the item might be with the nicely dressed
gentleman who stands innocently a few steps away.

Point an accusing finger at your prime suspect and he would in spectacular
fashion remind you of the fact that, the best way to defend oneself is to
attack. He would yell out to prove his innocence. Turn to the next gentleman
and he might just hand you your snatched item. Indeed they go as far as to
dropping these items into heaps of refuse around.

If anyone survives the circle mafia, trust that neither the Italian nor
Chinese mafia shall outwit him. The basic rules of survival at Nkrumah
circle are;

1. Except people you know, TRUST NO ONE. Not the young or old, tall or
short, fair or dark, mate or loading contractor who impresses on you to get
on board, the executively or casually dressed. Trust not even yourself if
need be.
2. However strong you are, do not get deceived. Quietly walk away if you
retrieve any item or foil any plot. The mafia is to a large extent armed and
can be unforgiving.
3. There is no denying the fact that you have a nice walkie talkie i.e
mobile phone. Its protection lies in receiving and making NO CALLS within
the parameters of the mafiadom. Remember smelling your phone alone is enough
for the mafia to put their satellite on you.
4. Do not be in too much of a haste to get a car. Remain calm, stay alert
and avoid the scrambles associated with getting home. As much as you can
relax and you definitely would get home, circle is not home to anybody.

As for the ladies, have your bags well secured under your armpits better
still; hang them around your necks. Remove all jewellery in the evenings and
drop them into the main compartments of your bags. Do not expose the zip
sides of your bags.

For the gentlemen, avoid putting your wallets in your back pockets. Also be
careful about keeping essential documents and cards in your back pockets,
because although these criminals might not need these cards, they simply
would throw them away whereas you might be suffering all that inconvenience.

Listening to music either on your phone or other electronic gadgets as
i-pods is a sure way that you can be tracked and ripped subsequently of your
possession. When an unsuccessful thief is nabbed, much as he might be seen
to be pounced upon and beaten, the very people to send him to the station
might be allies who would leave him eventually to go free.

Come the next morning, you just might see your phone on display at the exact
spot it was burgled. These guys sell these phones for a pittance yet they
leave you with misery, potentially huge loss of call credits contacts and
personal information.

Always remember however how well your day has gone, a brief moment at
Nkrumah circle can throw all of that good feeling into total disarray. The
mafia is ever ready to strike. Be careful; stay alert, focused and very
watchful. For all you know, the mafia is right next to you. My prayer and
hope is that you never fall prey to these charlatans, sons of crime and

Always see yourself as a potential victim because these dons in the Nkrumah
circle mafia Dom do not discriminate as to who to prey on. All you have to
do is to ……..WATCH OUT!!!

By Shaban Barani Alpha, the New Crusading GUIDE Newspaper.