The James Gichuru-Rironi Highway expansion project is causing major traffic snarl-ups, and one of those is past Kangemi Market towards Kabete Police Station. Lately, this particular section has become famous for phone theft. The thugs snatch phones from open car windows- both personal cars and matatus. They even open car doors, getting inside and hijacking drivers and riders at gunpoint or knife-point. My husband and I are very aware of this trend and so whenever we drive along the section, our windows are rolled up and doors locked. If the windows have to be rolled down even an inch, our phones are out of sight.

One evening at around 7.30pm we noticed a suspicious person walking alongside cars, ours included, and particularly taking a little more time if someone was visibly using their phone in the car. I was using my three-month-old Xiaomi Redmi Note 7, but the windows were well into the roof. We smiled at how secure we felt as he passed by. We even noticed a motorbike moving along the pavement at exactly the same pace as this guy. Probably his get-away ‘car’.

Now we are driving along the same route, same section. This time we don’t notice a guy. We experience a guy. I have just finished drafting on my phone points for the articles I intend to write for our class magazine, an assignment that is due tomorrow morning. Then I also decide to seek guidance from my companion about some YouTube-Facebook transfer I have been trying all day without success. I am guided and I’m moving successfully through it. I exit Facebook and open YouTube, then ‘Frrrw!’ Man, that was fast. And scary.

How they steal your phones- Phone Number 3
No, I’m sure I had zipped it up securely because my teacher, Mr Experience, has taught me well. Apparently, it hasn’t taught me well enough because my phone is now missing from my bag. I search in the bag, around it, around me, on the floor and in the space between the seats but it’s just not there.

For a moment I am almost not sure if I still have my hand! We consider everything telepathically in the next few seconds. We forgot to roll the windows up when I started using my phone. Shouting won’t help. I am definitely not fast, or brave enough to run after this guy. My husband is fast and brave but the bravery of running after a guy who will lead you to some dark alleys and probably stab you to death is foolish bravery. And even if he could try, it will take too much time to put back on one of his shoes which is off, stop the car safely so I can take over and figure out how we should meet up after his chase.

When we are done with Shock Phase One, we hold an actual verbal conversation in which we decide the best thing to do is drive on a fraction of a kilometer to Kabete Police Station and report the matter; not because we expect some officer to storm out with handcuffs and a gun ready to catch or kill a thief, no. It’s just so that if anybody ever surprises me with an allegation of a crime connected to ‘my phone’ I will surprise them with an OB number as proof that I am no longer in possession of that phone. That is called acceptance.