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Stolen phone business booms at Nkrumah Circle

A 23-year old Kwesi Ogbozor is a school dropout and a second child of his parents.

His mother lives in Nyabeman, a community near Satellite in the Ga West Municipality.

On August 23, 2019, Kwesi was arrested by the Accra Regional Police Command for having in his possession a mobile phone.

Apparently, the said phone belonged to a victim who was robbed at gunpoint at her residents at Gbawe recently.

But Kwesi claim he did not take part in the said robbery but bought the phone at Nkrumah Circle, a hub for second hand phone dealers for personal use.

The police did not believe his story because, an evidence of the said robbery has been found in his possession.

His mother, who is a nanny at Manhean did all she could to get her son freed but to no avail.

Robbery, to the police is a serious crime which involves force of intimidation to take a property from another person with the use of a weapon.

According to the police, “this action is considered as a first degree felony which bail is determined by a competent court of law.

Madam Grace, mother of Kwesi says she tried all she could to secure bail for her son but all her efforts were unsuccessful.

Kwesi was later sentenced to three years after the court found him guilty of possessing a stolen item.

The Story

Kwesi was an apprentice learning masonry.

His Master, nicknamed Blackie, often gives him a stipend of GHC200 each week after work to cater for his needs.

His desire to have a cell phone and acquiring one from a man he is not able to identify therefore led him to his incarceration.

The Robbery Incident

On July 18, 2020, a complainant reported a robbery incident that occurred at her Gbawe residence around 9pm to the police.

DSP Effia Tenge, Accra Regional Police Public Relations Officer, who briefed the media said the suspected armed robbers, took away unspecified amount of money, jewelries, laptops and mobile phones belonging to the complainant and his wife.

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The phone included a sumsung J7 pro and an Iphone X.

Police investigations traced the phone to Kwesi Ogbonzor who was using the mobile phone.

“When he was arrested and interrogated, Kwesi told the police that he bought the phone from a gentleman at Nkrumah Circle and then led the police to the area but could not fine the man who sold the phone to him,” DSP Tenge said.

The police therefore took suspect to court but since he could not identify the person who sold the mobile phone to him, he was suspected to be part of the gang that attacked the victim and charged for robbery.

His mother could not afford the fees of a counsel and so Kwesi was given a legal representative from the Legal Aid Commission to support him battle his case.

He was therefore sentenced to three years prison term after his counsel was able to overturn the initial charges of robbery to possession of stolen goods.

To Madam Grace, it would be advisable to avoid purchasing products that are considered ‘SECOND HAND’ in areas where the sellers cannot be traced to avoid trouble.

Buying Of Stolen Items

“Some pndividuals or small business operators are always looking for bargain prices on vital equipment considered ‘slightly used products,” says DSP Efia Tenge.

She says most of such persons, either knowingly or unknowingly, may purchase stolen products to sell for more profit.

She said in most robbery incidents, the perpetrators are often grabbed or traced through electronic gadgets.

“The police over the years have succeeded in convicting many armed robbers, and their receivers to jail.

Genuine Products Vrs Stolen Products

She says in every purchases especially of electronic gadgets, official receipts are often issued to the buyer to serve as evidence of purchase.

However, individuals who often buy stolen products are not given receipts.

She revealed that most of the times such individuals do not even do the purchases in stores but along streets and lorry stations.

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“Most of such items are stolen products that can land the buyer into trouble,” she revealed, adding “a purchaser is guilty of receipt of stolen property if he or she is unable to provide proof of purchase of the said item when caught.”

Issue Of Receipt

She continued that in an instance where a receipt of proof of purchase is issued to the buyer, that buyer become safe.

“In this instance, the attention of the police will be shifted to the owner of the store who sold the item and not the buyer during our investigations”, she explained.

Tiptoe Lane A Hub Of Stolen Products

Accra’s Tiptoe Lane near Kwame Nkrumah Circle is considered the hotspot for stolen mobile phones and other electronic gadgets in the capital.

This place, besides being notorious for this kind of illicit trade, are noted for second-hand markets of questionable products from dubious origins.

As a result of this phenomenon, most victims of stealing and robbery end up visiting the area to find their stolen good.

Men and women who deal in the mobile phones could be seen holding the electronic device in hand and on table selling as if they are selling tomatoes in the market.

Most of these phones do not come with their accessories like chargers and headphones.

We have Ghanaians, Nigerians and other nationalities selling these items under umbrellas while others stand at vantage points luring customers to purchase their wares.

How They Are Sold

Passing through Circle, one will see the traders of these stolen items hawking with the phones in trays while others stand at a spot with the phones in their palms while others arrange them on tables as if they are selling ‘tomatoes.’

The sellers always change their locations each day as they are not static.

Along the streets, the sellers often chase buyers with the said phones as low as GHC20 to GHC200 depending on the type of phone the customer wants.

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These phones are often sold without chargers and the buyer after buying has to go look for accessories at different location.

Source Of Supply

DGN Online over the weekend spoke to a trader in the illegal business at Nkrumah Circle.

Clement Asiedu DGN Online that he receives his mobile phones from Dubai, China and Finland .

He says, he sells both brand new phones as well as old phones depending on the choice of the buyer.

On a day where business booms, he can sell six phones per day but on a bad day, he sells none.

Another trader, Kwabina Nii, who sells the phone in his palm told DGN Online that he sells phones as and when he gets supply.

According to him, they have persons who like gambling with their mobile phone and when such persons lose, their phones are sold to defray their cost.

“Sometimes too, some people may be in need of a quick cash and in this instance, we buy from them at cheap price and resell to a customer.”

He said at times, they also repair faulty mobile phone, change the case to an original one and resell for more profit.

“I do not sell stolen mobile phones even though we often receive complainants that some of the traders deal in stolen items”, he claims.

Fraudsters Not Left Behind

It has been discovered that some of these traders also sell toilet soap molded as mobile phones to unsuspecting buyers.

Some of the traders, sources disclose carefully mold cakes of toilet soap and then package them as handsets to later sell to potential buyers.

The victims, sources disclose, are often showed genuine mobile phone and when he pays for it, the trader will pretend to be packaging it and in the process, swap it with a soap molded mobile phone.

—Daily Guide