Five ways to lose your phone in Nairobi

Here's how the bad guys are stealing your cell phone.
Here’s how the bad guys are stealing your cell phone.

I read once that if you want to confuse a Kenyan you want to steal their mobile phone. With the amount of stuff we are doing on our contraption its not surprising. Kenyans are at the top of lists for mobile use in so many categories be it mobile money or tweefing with everyone or even surfing for gay porn.

So the loss of the phone can be quite a trauma inducing one as it violates your privacy (especially if you are a gay porn dude).

Nairobi used to be a pretty bad place to live in thus the term Nairoberry was born. However in the last few years its become a lot better. Even with the less violent crime the bad guys are still looking for your phone. Here are some of the most sneaky;

a) The window scam

This one is pretty simple. You are sitting in traffic (which happens a lot here) and then a random person suddenly grabs your phone from outside your car or matatu and flees. That usually is the end of your addition to the #prayforthedrummerqueen twitter trend.

b) The newspaper scam

With this one the bad guy is sitting next you minding his own business as he looks through his latest copy of The Star (pardon the plug). What you may not realise is that as he “reads” he is busy ransacking your bag/pocket. Watch out for the newspaper guy.

c) The Seat belt scam

This one involves a guy who when your matatu is checking into town and then they start yelling about there being “kanju” (city council workers) who are looking at whether passengers have their seat belt on. As you seek your seat belt you are being robbed silly. Sorry my friend.

d) The Call my son scam

This one happens before you get on public transport. A kindly old lady asks you on the street to call her son/daughter/sister as she has no network. The number rings and the person immediately hangs up. When you try again the number is “mteja” (unavailable).

When you get on the bus a few minutes later another lady gets on the bus claiming her phone was stolen and she calls it to get the thief. Your phone rings and you have to give up your own phone usually as you are being beaten up for being a phone thief. This is probably the most painful of the scams for you as your phone is gone and you might thumped.

e) The office scam

This one involves someone who comes to your office for whatever reason; an appointment, a delivery or whatever it may be. They then help themselves to whatever is available is you look away.

Do you have anyway you have lost your phone?

5 thoughts on “Five ways to lose your phone in Nairobi

  1. The only defense I can think of for the Call My Son Scam is to ask someone to M-Pesa you Shs. 20/= the confirmation will have your name, not the alleged owners

    1. Its a good idea that one. But they are usually coordinated so you need to think fast or get shocked.

  2. There’s the pick your pocket as we struggle into a city hoppa at Ken company… You realise only once seated on said bus and break down into a puddle of tears… At least that’s how it happened to someone I know *cough cough *

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