Guide: The mind game phone thieves use to steal from their victims in Maiduguri (I)



Phone snatching, household theft and other related thefts have become common in Maiduguri, many have lost their phones and other valuables including money, jewelries and etcetera.

In the course of these, they even sometimes injure their victims, leaving them with permanent wounds.

For most of these crimes and theft, the victims were subjected to various mind games, deceit and wholesome ruses.

Babagana, for instance, only found out after disembarking from a tricycle that the phone in his pocket, is not his.

It was replaced with another—someone else’s stolen phone—while he was being rode to a jumma’at mosque in Maiduguri. His was gone!

The ruse here is to maintain more or less the weight of his phone in the pocket.

In Malam Musa’s house, the thief came as a PHCN staff.

His wife, who had no prior knowledge of any fault in the house, was told that he was sent by Mal. Musa, her husband.

The ploy was to get her confused. Confused, she surely became.

To get clarification, the thief told her to call Mal. Musa and link them on the phone.

That she did; but it was the last thing she did with her phone.

‘Yes sir, I am already in the house. I am with the area inspector, he is outside. Let me give him the phone,’ he fired into the phone as he walked out.

On the other end, Mal. Musa kept telling him to ‘return her phone, you are a thief. I didn’t send you…’

Before they—he and his wife—would say Jack Robinson, the phone, an iPhone 14 Pro Max, was gone.

Sadiya got duped playing a Good Samaritan. Her thieve ran into her at the frontage of Macaw Super Market in Maiduguri.

He was looking for a direction, having pretended being lost and asked her to help him out.

She did and thus, as a ‘thank you’, he offered to pray for her.

That prayer, whatever it was, spun her out of her sense—only to recover to find her phone, wallet and her shopping all gone!

This paper collected a list of ways in which these crimes are committed on tricycles, in households and on streets—as, so far, the only protection.

Tricycle theft:

Tricycle. Nobody rode on a tricycle for more than an hour. But that’s where the most phones were stole.

It is a whole plot—designed and executed by the tricycle rider and his gang.

The red flags are:

i. The tricycles already have one or two passengers boarded

ii. Most of the passengers are random. They are the thieves. They are like snakes.

iii. The tricycles normally don’t go your route and offer to change their it for you

iv. They try to engage you with random discussions and act friendly

v. The also drive recklessly and roughly, especially over speed bumps and potholes. That is mostly where the real operation takes place.

vi. The passengers and the rider engage in some random, yet coded conversation which is mainly part of the operation. They pass information about you, without your knowledge. They tell the rider through coded language that the operation is successful.

vii. After that, they then suddenly tell you that they have changed their mind about the direction and so ‘drop’ you instead viii. They will turn down your offer for payment of the fare

Most of the victims realize that their phones are gone shortly after they are ‘dropped’.

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