Kenya crime rate rises by 19pc in a tough economy, survey shows

Tuesday May 21 2024
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Public service buses in traffic jam along Ronald Ngala street in Nairobi CBD, Kenya on April 4,2024. PHOTO | FILE | NMG


Crimes committed and reported in Kenya crossed the 100,000 mark for the first time, marked by a spike in theft amid tough economic times.

Official data in the Kenya Economic Survey shows that reported cases of crime hit 104,842, a 19 percent rise from last year.

The spike was characterised by increased cases of theft by staff, robberies, break-ins and theft of stock as more Kenyans sought to make ends meet amid biting inflation and high rates of unemployment.

Inflation averaged 7.7 percent last year with the rising cost of goods and services making life harder in an economy with thinning job opportunities.

Read: Kenyans face tough times as global oil prices hit five-month high

“There was a general increase in all crimes reported to the police except for homicide which decreased marginally from 3,056 in 2022 to 3,031,” the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) says.


The data shows that robberies rose 27.76 percent to 3,988 last year followed by stealing, which increased 25.9 percent to 18,534.

But an even more worrying trend was the increased cases of theft by staff which rose 12.8 percent to 1,907 and a 6.7 percent rise to 2,860 in cases of employees stealing stock.

Kenya last year battled sky-high inflation which at some point hit 9.2 percent in March, squeezing already constrained workers.

Kenyans also grappled with mounting job losses as most businesses sought to cut employee numbers in the wake of increased taxation.

Last year, Law Society of Kenya (LSK) warned of the likelihood of rising crime rates amid increased job losses as businesses cut staff numbers in the wake of new taxes imposed via the Finance Act, of 2023.

“The result of massive job losses will be increased rates of crime as most of the unemployed youth population will be forced to resort to crime as a means of survival,” the LSK had argued in court papers.

There are fears that the number of crimes is likely to rise in the coming months amid grim prospects of securing jobs as businesses grapple with increased operational costs.

Read: US warns citizens of rising crime in Nairobi

Inmate numbers at the country’s prisons jumped 20.6 percent last year mirroring the increased crime rates.

The data shows that the number of prisoners jumped 46.3 percent to 248,061 last year, with 167,937 of them being unconvicted, pointing to a slowed hearing and determination of criminal cases.

The increase in reported crime cases heightens focus on the national security.

The number of illegal firearms that were surrendered or forcefully recovered dropped to 115 last year from 221 a year earlier. Narok and Kakamega counties posted the highest increase in reported crimes at 89.2 percent and 67 percent respectively.

Other counties that reported a spike in crimes were Vihiga, Nandi, Murang’a and Kwale.

Homicides were the only crime that recorded a drop last year even as the number of police officers involved in criminal activities and attacks on tourists more than doubled.

Attacks on tourists jumped 161.5 percent to 68 reported cases last year while crimes involving police officers rose 133.7 percent to 180.

Cases of trafficking of narcotics increased by 43 percent to 9,338 last year while economic crimes that include fraud, swindling and money laundering increased 13 percent to 4,970 last year.