Saturday, 1 August 2015
Security Alert! New Tactics Criminals Use on ATM Users; Drugged Handkerchiefs
The Nigeria Police on Friday advised members of the public using ATM at various banks to be security conscious as some criminals now disguised as customers queuing to withdraw money.
A statement on the Nigeria Police Force website noted that on July 30, at about 12.10 a.m., a male bank customer went to withdraw money from one of the ATMs at the Central Business District (CBD), Abuja.
It stated that three young men who pretended to have come to withdraw money were also on queue with the plan to attack the man.
“The victim raised an alarm which attracted nearby Police Patrol team to the scene. The hoodlums took to their heels upon sighting the advancing policemen.
“One automatic pistol fell from one of the suspects and was recovered by the police and the victim was safely rescued.
“However, another male victim was unlucky as hoodlums attacked him and snatched the N500,000 cash he withdrew from ATMs on July 28.
“Police responded to his distress call and one of the suspects was arrested. Efforts are on to apprehend other gang members,’’ the statement said.
Lagosians are not new to crime. There was a time a time when going to Oshodi under Bridge at 7pm was almost like walking into the lion’s den. This was as a result of the activities of armed criminals who had turned the base of the ever busy bridge into thier lair.
There was also a time when criminal minded indviduals would deliberately lead unsuspecting residents, particularly those not familiar with a particular terrain, into breaking a law with the ultimate aim of extorting money from the victims so that they could be left off the hook.
Then came the era of ‘one chance’ drivers, which was the notorious brand given to criminals who had devised means of robbing unsuspecting commuters who were in search of on-the-go commercial buses that were ever ready to pick up passengers both at designated bus stops and along the road.
But now, the attention of Lagos residents (and all Nigerians as a whole) have been called to yet another method which criminals have now adopted in the state. It is assumed that this method is so new that a lot of people are yet to be well informed on how it works.
According to informaton gathered by Saturday Tribune, the criminals using this new evil method could come under any guise and they could be anybody - taxi drivers, neighbours, friends, associates and even relatives.
It has been revealed that once a target has been identified, the criminals would devise a means of moving close to the indvidual with a view to starting a form of interaction with him. Once this has been done, the victim’s face would be covered with a handkerchief already laced with some chemicals which would put the person to sleep almost immediately. By the time the victim wakes up, the criminals must have carted away money and any other valuables he must have had on him.
The state of helplessness of the sedated victim, it is understood, also predisposes the victims (especially the females) to diffeent forms of sexual abuse and assault.
While Saturday Tribune could not get to talk to any of the victims of this ugly development yet, information gathered indicated the Igando axis in Alimosho Local Government Area as one of the areas where this new dimension of crime has become very pronounced in recent times.
A subsequent visit paid to the Igando area of the state raised concerns about residents’ level of awarness of the growing trend. Saturday Tribune’s tour of the axis during the week still showed people going about their business, apparently in total oblivion of the growing danger among them.
While majority of the residents, whose opinions about the development were sampled by Saturday Tribune, said they had no idea of the growing criminal trend, only a few indcated that they were aware of it. One of such people was 30-year old Itunu Enioba, a resident of Nobex area of Igando, who said she got wind of the trend through her pastor in church who had warned all members of his congregation during a recent worship service.
“I don’t how he (the pastor) got to know about the trend, but I guess somebody must have narrated an ordeal to him. But now that you (Saturday Tribune) have brought it to my notice, I believe it is a confirmaton that it is true. I will personally take extra precautions to ensure I stay safe, while I will also make effort to inform those close to me about the new trend,” she said.
Saturday Tribune, in the meantime, recalls that about three months ago, the media was treated to the news of how a 27-year old woman, identified as Zara Mohammed and wife of a security guard was mistaken for a wealthy businesswoman and subsequently kidnapped. The kidnappers had used a handkerchief laced with some chemicals to sedate the unsuspecting woman. The incident which occured around Dolphin Estate area of Lagos Island left the kidnappers demanding a ransom of N10million from the woman’s helpless husband who was on a meagre N20000 monthly salary.
When narrating how she was kidnapped to the media, Zara gave an account which fitted into what has been described earlier in this report. “I was on my way back to the house, but on getting to the entrance of the estate, a woman driving a red Golf car stopped and asked if I was going into the estate and I said yes. She then offered to give me and two other men who were also at the entrance a ride. I accepted the gesture and boarded the vehicle because the driver was a fellow woman and I didn’t suspect any danger because she looked so innocent and harmless, not knowing that the two men were her partners in crime.”
“As soon as we boarded the car, one of the men used a white handkerchief to cover my face and then I became unconscious. When I regained consciousness, I found myself in a room with my hands and legs tied. Inside the room I met a woman who alleged she was abducted with her daughter. She complained that since they kidnapped them, she hadn’t seen her daughter. Two days later, they took her away and I was left alone in the room,” she added.
But the Lagos State Government has said it is aware of the development and that it will ensure it rids the state of this new wave of crime.
Speaking through the Chief Press Secretary to the Governor, Mr. Habib Aruna, the state government confirmed that unscrupulous persons now render their prospective victims unconscious through rubbing of perfumed handkerchief on the faces of their victims.
The government also alerted that the bandits usually target unsuspecting victims either in lonely commuter buses, taxis or quiet places.
According to Mr Aruna, by the time the effect of the drugged perfume wears off, the criminals would have fled off with the valuables of their victims.
“It is not yet known how harmful the drug being used on the handkerchief is. While that is being checked out, it may be necessary to alert members of the public to this new dimension,” he said.
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