5 Tricks Nairobi Residents Are Using To Avoid Bodaboda Thugs

Some of them are already taking steps to protect themselves from the mugging gang...

5 Tricks Nairobi Residents Are Using To Avoid Bodaboda Thugs
An aerial view of Nairobi CBD. /FILE

The increasing cases of insecurity across the country, especially Nairobi and its environs in recent months have sparked worry amongst Kenyans who have pressured the government to take action.

Nairobi Police Commander, James Mugera denied numerous reports of an increase in crime in the city in the past few weeks that have seen even politicians cry foul, including former Prime Minister, Raila Odinga. He further claimed that the reports were meant to ruin the reputation of President William Ruto's administration.

President Ruto nonetheless on Friday, November 11 instructed the National Police Service (NPS) to put an end to the mugging cases numerously and recently witnessed in the capital city.

“Muggings, cattle rustling or other cases of insecurity must stop,” he said.

President William Ruto with Inspector General of Police Japhet Koome at State House on November 11, 2022. /PCS

Even as Kenyans wait for police officers to move to action, some of them are already taking steps to protect themselves from the mugging gang that has become bolder by the day, injuring or even killing their victims to get their valuables.

Viral Tea takes a look at the tricks Kenyans are using to avoid detection by the notorious thugs.

Mask On 

Despite the threat of the COVID-19 pandemic seem to be fading away and Kenyans having abandoned the mask mandate as per the Ministry of Health, it turns out that the mask is becoming a vital tool to avoid an attack by muggers.

Speaking to Viral Tea, a trader based in Nairobi revealed that he carries his black mask with him eveytime he leaves the house.

However, as compared to the usual surgical blue mask that was prevalent during the pandemic period, he opts for a black mask.

"That way, they cannot see who you are when you're walking along the street at night, sometimes they'll think you're one of them," he explains.

Observations during the pandemic period revealed that some of the most notorious cases involved robbers who donned masks to hide their identities from their victims who might report to authorities. However, he has another trick up his sleeves:


Wearing your hoodie jacket while walking at night or a cap while walking during the day in warm weather helps to avoid detection by ambitious robbers who first identify their target before moving to action.

A hoodie coupled with a mask makes being spotted much harder as just like the first trick, the culprits might be made to believe that you look like one of their comrades.

The outfit has also served as an advantage during the rainy season. However, it is advised for you to carry your national identity card (ID) in the event you meet plain-clothes police officers on patrol.

Walking Fast

As this writer observed, walking at a fast pace has helped in avoiding being easily spotted. In some scenarios, Kenyans unsure of where to go and walk at a rather slow pace find themselves being targets of muggers.

In the midst of walking quickly, one is advised not to stop at any point, especially in the Nairobi Central Business District (CBD), avoiding any suspicious individuals from easily approaching you and stopping you from behind.

A photo of people walking along a Nairobi street. /FILE

Leaving your laptop bag in the office/at home 

A laptop bag has been viewed as a magnet, especially in the CBD. Just the mere sight of it makes potential muggers assume that you have something valuable which they'll snatch from you.

As a result, some Kenyans opt to leave their laptops at home or safely kept away in the office in the event they won't need to use it on their travels.

Carrying two phones or more

Bandits are normally attracted by what they see, in particular gadgets. This means that the mere sight of you making a phone call in the middle of a busy street makes you a target.

"Most of the reported cases are usually those of people who were on phone calls when they were robbed.

"On resisting, the bandits injure the victim or even kill them to get the targeted gadgets," stated a security expert.

Having more than one phone would help a victim reach out to the police immediately with the other gadget in the event they lose one of their gadgets to muggers.

While some Kenyans would opt for budget mobile phones (mulika mwizi), others purchase feature smartphones bearing the same capability as their counterparts, but cheaper than their counterparts. This would help them escape to a safe place with an Internet connection (like a cyber cafe) and block the phone remotely through tracking apps to prevent the suspects from accessing vital data in the gadget, including personal bank details.

A report released on Thursday, November 10 by security and risk management experts, SF Group also offers the following recommendations:


  1. Be vigilant when out in public: listen for motorcycle engines, and be more vigilant in the vicinity of boda-bodas
  2. Make use of safe boxes and lock up valuables
  3. Familiarise yourself with hotel staff, duty calls etc
  4. Walk in groups of at least two
  5. Familiarise yourself with roads and routes
  6. When driving, use your mirrors regularly to spot any suspicious boda-bodas that might be tailing you.
  7. Vary routes to work to avoid a setting pattern
  8. Carry a hard copy of emergency contact numbers in case your phone is stolen.
  9. Keep bag straps firmly around your shoulders.
  10. If in a café or restaurant keep these items out of sight so as to avoid an opportunist quick ‘grab’.
  11. If unsure when travelling, seek advice from your company security lead or security responder.


  1. Get distracted, especially by mobile telephone use, when out in public and after dark
  2. Walk around on your own after dark or in quiet/isolated areas.
  3. Display high-value items.
  4. Take valuables out that you do not need
  5. Use your mobile phone in the car with your window down
  6. Use your phone in densely populated areas
  7. Handle cash in the open
  8. Use matatus (minibus services) and boda-bodas (motorcycle taxis)

Police officers on patrol in Nairobi CBD. /FILE