Thieves vandals on the prowl at Mlimani City By Paul Dotto Shoppers at Mlimani City in Dar es Salaam should beware of criminals, who roam the mall's parking lot and vandalise cars, stripping them off side mirrors and other gadgets and stealing valuable items. An investigation by The Citizen has revealed an increase in thefts at the city's leading shopping complex in recent times, with most of the incidents happening during weekends. Unsuspecting motorists park and leave their vehicles ostensibly in the care of security personnel, who seem to only care about the warning that it's "parking at the owner's risk". The thieves take advantage of the crowds during the busy shopping weekends to slip into the parking lot and force the cars open, without being noticed. Individuals who have fallen prey to the crooks, said they suspected they had been trailed right from the entry by people who watched their movements at before descending on their cars. Besides the side mirrors and indicator lights, some cars are vandalised for the electronic power window motors and valuables left in the vehicles. The thieves appear to work in groups. Mr Gasper Mikimba, a resident of Mbezi, recounted to The Citizen how his laptop and cash were from stolen from his car "I left my car after making sure it was securely locked. I spent about 20 minutes in the supermarket. When I returned, my laptop worth Sh1.1 million and Sh4.8 million in cash were gone. "My car was not damaged and there was no indication of forced entry, which means the thieves used a master key to unlock the doors," he said. Mr Mikimba blamed the security guards for the theft, claiming that they did not even show any concern when he reported the incident. "The guards did not even bother to assist me. They only said that thefts were common at the mall and they are used to hearing complaints," he lamented. He suspected the guards could be working in cahoots with the thieves. A security guard, Mr Baraka David, dismissed the claim. "As you can see the area is so huge. It is not possible to watch over every car, especially during the weekends, when the area is full of vehicles," he said. Con men are also on the prowl in the area looking for soft spots to hit. Ms Roda Mwalusa met three strangers on arrival at the mall, who engaged her in a conversation last Tuesday before stealing her money and phone. "After we talked for some time they grabbed by things and jumped into a car parked nearby and sped away." The guards, who were called immediately, only consoled Ms Mwalusa, telling her that such incidents were common. A person who was fortunate enough not to fall into the trap, said that one day, he was followed by two people after coming out of a bank. "There must have known I had withdrawn some money. They started to speak to me as if they knew me. But I hastily left them," he said. The mall's property manager, identified only as a Mr Harie, denied that thefts were rampant at the shopping mall. "I am not aware of any thefts. Maybe our security company can give you details,"he said.