A 30-year-old recidivist, (name withheld) has been in and out of prison for four times for stealing.
Her stealing ‘spree’, she said has made her movement not only in Accra but Kumasi and other parts of the country limited for fear of being rearrested.
In an interview with crimecheckghana.org, the mother of one said she started stealing at age 7, lifting neighbours’ clothes on dry lines.
The ex-convict indicated that her father was promiscuous and therefore gave birth to many children with about six women. This, she said made him irresponsible, and led her into criminal acts.
“My father did not care about us when I was a child. I had to steal people’s clothes on dry lines to wear which became part of me,” she said.
Her ‘professional’ stealing job
According to her, as a mother who did not have a good upbringing and the needed support for a good future, she grew up becoming a ‘chronic’ thief making it her profession.
“I am known in some parts of Accra, Kumasi, Cape Coast, Swedru, Mankessim for stealing. I and my gang travel to these places just to steal and come back,” she confessed.
The remorseful thief indicated that together with her gang they shoplifted phones and clothes. She said some of the operations she went solo landed her into prison and the ones which she was not apprehended, she was beaten to pulp.
“I recall one time when I and my friends were mercilessly beaten in a locked shop in Kumasi. The man used the buckle of a belt (the metal part) to beat us. We were severely bruised but we were denied medical care at the Komfo Anokye Teaching. I told the nurses we were beaten for theft,” she said.
How she landed into prison
Narrating her prison journey, she said her first attempt was when she stole second hand clothes at a popular market in Accra. “I stole the clothes and hid it in my panties. The person did not realize it until I left. One day, she met me and she started hooting at me. Considering the embarrassment, I agreed to pay but she handed me over to the police,” she recalled.
She said she was taken to court and was jailed twenty-four months at the Nsawam Female Prison.
The female recidivist said in her second attempt, she was jailed nine months when she defaulted in paying a court fine. “I stole five wigs amounting to Five Thousand Ghana cedis from a shop at Madina in Accra. The shop owner was able to make me out later and had me arrested,” she said.
In her third attempt, she said she got six months imprisonment for shoplifting a phone from a boutique and in her last attempt, she stole dresses from a boutique.
She indicated that anytime she tried to restrain herself from stealing she heard a strong voice telling her to ‘pick up somebody’s item.’
The young woman said she sold the phones and some of the dresses she stole to some dealers at the Kwame Nkrumah Circle in Accra. “I had customers who operated phone businesses and boutiques. I sold the items to them at low prices and they knew I have been stealing them,” she said.
Though she claims she has repented, she fears for her life when she walks in town. “I have been indoors since I came back from prison three weeks ago because someone may recognize me and cause my arrest. This time, I have repented,” she said.
CCF’s advocacy on Crime Prevention
Crime Check Foundation (CCF) has introduced programmes including the latest ‘Stay Away From Trouble’ as part of its crime prevention advocacy project.
Through these programmes CCF cautions the general public against acts that could land them in trouble in a bid to curb crime.
The Foundation screens one-on-one interviews with prison inmates bringing to bear acts that landed them into prison and the difficulties they face in custody.
It has also paid the fines of many petty offenders for their release.
By Rudolph Nandi