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Pleading Guilty – True Life Short Story

Written by Sam-Mark Ansah  There are criminal masterminds. So are there a great deal of smart people who are as well tenacious e...



Written by Sam-Mark Ansah 

There are criminal masterminds. So are there a great deal of smart people who are as well tenacious enough to solve crimes for which they were victims. Thieves are caught for various reasons; some had their cups full. Others, just literally had it coming. Some few, simply stole from the wrong person. I say this with a grin on my face. The following is a record of true events that transpired in my life some three weeks ago. For obvious reasons, names and other intricate information of the “characters” have either been altered or withheld.

 
Oh, I forgot to introduce myself; for the purpose of this writing, simply call me Sam. I’m a 2nd year engineering student of KNUST. On the 24th of February, like most other Tuesdays, I woke around 7 am, quickly got dressed and rushed to a surveying class. The class was supposed to be a 4 hour class, but on some days, we simply finished our tasks before time. That fateful Tuesday was one of those days. I finished by 11 but instead of returning to my room like I often did, I decided to stick around and revise a thing or two. 

I was with Dido, a close friend of mine at the Vodafone café when my phone my rung. It was my roommate (hereinafter referred to as Roomie). “Sam, come to the room right away. I think we’ve been robbed”. I didn’t even allow him to end his statement. I bolted out of the place to see what had happened for myself. 

On reaching the room, I noticed the room had been tossed; my suitcase which I had properly locked my laptop in, was left open and few of my clothes thrown around; I didn’t have to be a rocket scientist to realise my laptop wouldn’t be there. For some weird reason, I simply smiled. Deep down I was angry, but hey, it already happened there was little I could do. My roommate also said his GHS 2,000 which he had brought to the room just the previous night, had been taken. 

Considering our door was in perfect shape, we thought the perp had keys to the place; I mean, it was the only way someone could enter the room after it had been locked without causing any form of damage to the door. It was just natural that our first suspect was our porter since he was the only other person with keys to the room.

I advised my roommate that we take the matter to the police; he consented and we left to make an official report at the KNUST Police Station. In my statement, I stated that my laptop computer had been stolen, and in his, he noted that a sum of 2,000ghc was gone.

A whole week passed and we hadn’t heard anything yet. By now, I was still in the healing phase. For the two years I’ve been in the school, my social life wasn’t exactly the kind I had hoped, for what reason, I can’t exactly tell. If I wasn’t learning on my own, or in a lecture, I was using my laptop. In short, the laptop was pretty much my everything; girlfriend, best friend, just name it. So u can imagine how broken I was without it. 

Another week passed and still nothing. I went back to the station to find out if there had been any new developments relating to my case. Unluckily, the investigator handling my case had to attend to something back at home so she wasn’t at the office most hours. 

Now, when the laptop got missing, I tried tracking it using some software I had installed on it (There are a few such things on the market). It was a dead end and I could totally relate to that; the laptop had a biometric security system so whoever stole it wouldn’t be able to use it until it’s completely formatted, thus, preventing my software from working. 

The whole online market thing in recent times has become quite popular, even in our part of the world. I thought checking all the online markets in Ghana each day was worth a shot, so right from the day the laptop went missing, twice each day, I’d quickly go through these sites and see if anyone posted anything similar to my laptop.

I did this for about 12 days continuously, and I always ended with a mini heartbreak. The 7th of March was different. That Saturday, I couldn’t do my routine checks online in the morning. So at about 8pm, after returning from Dee’s place, I checked again. Olx came up empty. Jumia had nothing “inspiring”. I moved to the Tonaton and that’s when it all started.

 

There was my laptop computer posted at about 10:03am that same day. Trust me, words can’t describe half the feelings I experienced the few minutes after I saw the ad.
You’re probably wondering how I knew that was my laptop. You remember how close I said I was to it? Yeah, that’s how! Immediately, I called my mum and told her of what I’d just seen. Hettie, my sister was brought up to speed and I asked her to pose as a buyer.
While I waited for her to call me back with how her call to the dude selling the laptop had gone, my roommate entered the room. “ Dude, guess what?” I said with excitement, “ you’re about to find your money, I just saw my laptop being sold online” with that, I showed him the ad on my phone.

Before me stood a guy who had just been told his missing ghs2,000 might soon be retrieved. Now tell me, what reaction would you expect from this guy? He surprised me; he seemed rather unhappy that his money was about to be found. Yeah , yeah , yeah…I ignored his reaction until he finally said something. You won’t believe it; he advised that we completely do nothing until the next Monday just to be sure it was really my laptop. “What the hell?” I thought. I’d been waiting for that moment for the most part of the last few weeks and now that it’s here you tell me to wait? Now I had a hunch he was complicit. I still ignored him. Next thing he said was, he needed to go and tell Mark, a friend of his who lived just adjacent our hostel. I warned him against it. I felt we needed to keep it quiet until we retrieved our stolen items. 

He reluctantly agreed and said he needed to go get his tablet from a friend’s place urgently. All I saw was someone trying by all means to get away from the room. You’ll find out why shortly. I couldn’t stop him, obviously. Just before he left he asked that I give him the number with which the posting on tonaton had been made. When I disagreed, he abruptly had a tantrum and complained I was being selfish with it. He queried that, his missing money was on the line as well and that it was only fair he had the number too. My suspicion in him grew stronger following the tantrum. I then gave him the number anyways, only I was smart enough to give him a wrong number. Since I was on tonaton almost every other day, I knew just how to find a number of someone who had also posted an ad of a laptop just like mine. So I quickly gave him a number belonging to a completely different person also on tonaton. He took the number and left.

I called my confidante; my mum, instantly and updated her; I told her how I felt my roommate could be complicit in what had happened. By then my sister had also arranged a meet on my behalf with the buyer. “A student of Kumasi Polytechnic whose brother would check the quality of the laptop and buy it on her behalf”, was her cover story. The dealer fell for it and consented to the plan, only he scheduled the next Monday to meet. He even went ahead to send photos of the laptop o my sister just to ignite her interest in the laptop. The pictures further confirmed it was indeed my laptop. I was anxious. I was scared. I feared I had come too close to lose it again. On top of all this was a great deal of optimism that, my laptop will safely return to me.

At about 9:06pm the same evening, my roommate returned with his tablet. Of course, he asked if there was any progress but I denied anything of the sort. He then told me that,on his way to his friend’s, he spoke to his big brother, who lived and worked around, and he also advised that we do nothing at all until the next Monday. I simply shook my head and sighed. 

When we first got robbed, he said he wasn’t going to tell anyone at home nor his brother on campus despite my advice that it was the right thing to do. So I wondered how, his brother, who had no prior knowledge of the whole thing was now giving advice. I knew the guy was lying. I asked for his phone to make a call just so I could assess his call log. He asked for a minute, after which he handed me the phone. Of course, I had to make him believe I really was about to make a call so I dialed my sister’s number and pretended it wasn’t going through. I quickly assessed his dialed calls and realized he had really called his brother. Just before I returned the phone, something struck me; the time on the phone read 9:24pm while the call history said he called his brother at 9:23pm. Obviously, guy lied about that, because I had been with him for about the last 15minutes and he didn’t talk to anyone. I further checked the details of the call to his brother and realized the duration read “0 mins, 0secs”. There was my smoking gun, or at least part of it; now I had a damn good reason to believe he was either behind it all, or played a part in it. 

I immediately told him my sister had said, the one who posted the ad said he had already sold the laptop and that it was too late. He broke into tears; fake tears of course. From the way he sounded it was too easy to tell it was all a sham. I got out of the room and stood at the entrance of the hostel. Shortly after I got out, he followed and said he was going to see his brother. 

Now when you get out of my hostel, there are two options; you either go left towards Franco Hostel, or right towards P3. I know his brother to be along the left route but the guy used the right. When I enquired why he was going the longer way, he said the left route was dark especially since there was a black out. I didn’t buy that because this was a guy who stayed out as late as 1 am sometimes and returned through this same route he just described as too dark. 

Shortly after he left, I went back to the room to sleep. As I lay in my bed, I replayed all the events of that night in my head while I rechecked the posting on tonaton. Guess what, the posting was no longer there. It had simply vanished. Obviously, someone realized I was bent on finding it so asked that the post be taken off. What they didn’t know was, I had taken enough screenshots of the posting and kept them safe in a cloud storage. I was too tenacious to let it go.

That night, I simply couldn’t sleep. I woke up almost every other hour. Further reflections made a few more things clear to me. For instance, the day we got robbed, happened to be the same day Roomie left his keys at his faculty and we were certain the perp had the keys to our room. To add on, for the most part of this semester, one question he often asked was what my schedule for the day was. He probably wanted to know what time would best favor his ulterior motives. Also shortly after I lost the laptop, he would sporadically ask questions like, “so how can the thief use the laptop since it starts only upon swiping my finger over the thumb print thingy?”

It felt like the longest night I ever experienced. 

The seconds gradually become minutes, the minutes, hours, and finally, it was morning. I was unable to make it to Church that Sunday morning so I just decided to make my quite time a little more intense. Roomie was around. He often left for church by 7 in the morning but for whatever reason he had, he delayed a bit that Sunday. I guessed he simply wanted to keep an eye on me and see my every move. 

I took the chance to ask him to join me pray after I had read my bible. I assured him praying was a sure way to retrieve our stolen items. Of course, he had to oblige. Dude sat on his bed while I sat on mine. We held hands and prayed. Oh I really prayed, mainly against the one who had taken the items. Afterwards I asked him to say a prayer too. Surprisingly he rained a few curses on the thief too. My “Amen“ was a strong one.

After our prayer, he left for church. I made sure he believed I had forgotten about everything and was considering moving on. My Whatsapp status for instance read “ I give up! I’ll just let God handle the `rest.” If he was closely keeping an eye on me like I felt, then I needed to put on some smoked screen his “viewing pleasure”. I’m sure all these made him feel safer. 

Meanwhile I had a hunch my sister’s cover had been blown considering I had earlier made Roomie aware my sister was going to follow up on the ad on my behalf, so I called another friend, Kojo, who assumed a cover for our covert mission. “A worker from Sunyani, visiting Kumasi for work and needed a laptop urgently”, was his cover story. He called thenumber I had gotten off tonaton and set it rolling. We remembered to mention that the number had been taken sometime the previous day but the call wasn’t made because of time, just so the dealer on tonaton wouldn’t suspect something since the post had been deleted. The guy totally bought the story. We were sure of this because he called my sister and said the laptop had already been bought. I was glad he had fallen for the ruse. Kojo called and arranged a meeting on my behalf. The guy agreed to meet him on Monday morning with the laptop. 

Now all I needed was a few cops to accompany me to the rendezvouson Monday. I rushed to the police station around 3 pm on Sunday hoping I would meet the investigator who was handling my case. I figured she would probably help nab these guys. On reaching the station I was told she wasn’t going to be at work until about 9 am the next morning. That was bad news for me. Here’s how a dear aunt in Kumasi came in; she helped arrange for a few policemen to help out. She didn’t simply do this but she was actually there for me the whole time this was going on. 

Before I knew it, it was Monday morning. Strangely I woke up so early. My Monday lecture was at 4pm so I often stayed in bed much longer than on other weekdays. The plan was to go and meet my aunt, go with her to the police station, and then go and meet the dealer in town so we could grab them. Problem was how to leave the room before 4pm since my roommate was quite acquainted with my weekly schedule and as such, leaving the room before the usual time might spook him. 

“Dido, where we dey rep the midsem for. You make ready? Vim” that was me on phone, making quite sure my roommate heard every word I said. It was a fake call though. No one was on the other end of the line. I just wanted him to think I needed to leave the room early because of a midsem exam. Of course I remembered to put my phone on silent so an incoming call wouldn’t disrupt my plan.

I realized he fell for the ruse after he asked a thing or two concerning the “midsem exam”. I quickly took my bath, got dressed and left the room. From the room, I went straight to my faculty wash room to change clothes. I left the room wearing a red t shirt and a black shorts. I changed into a black jeans trouser and a polo top. Here’s why; Following the removal of the post on tonaton shortly after I had shown it to him, I concluded he was in touch with whoever was selling the laptop. For this reason I felt he wasn’t supposed to know not just my true schedule for the day, but also a rudimentary thing like what I was wearing. Who knows? He was probably aware someone from Sunyani was coming to buy the laptop and could maybe tell the guy to watch out for someone dressed like I had. Changing clothes without him knowing was an ancillary measure I took to ensure success.

After changing, I went to meet my auntie and we went together to the police station. She had called in a few favours from someone she knew in the Force so it was quite simple getting them on board.

I called Kojo then, and asked him to call the buyer and agree to meet us in town around some radio station around the Kumasi sports stadium. He agreed.

It was game time. We rode in an ash Ford Mondeo. We were four in all. Three police officers and myself. Our cover was intact, considering it wasn’t a police car and none of them was dressed like a cop. Soon we were at the rendezvous point. Kojo who was really all the way in Sunyani called the buyer and told them we had reached. Kojo’s distance away from us wasn’t much of a problem; he had two phones, one of which like my line, run on the Vodafone x package so we stayed on line the whole time, while he communicated with the dealer on his other line. Now, the reason I couldn’t call with my own number was because I felt that would totally blow our cover since my roommate had my number and might warn this dealer against it. The dealer now asked that we move to some area in the same vicinity. This made it feel even shadier. We denied his request and insisted he came over to the place we had initially agreed. Guy wouldn’t budge; he suggested we met him at Unity Oil instead.

 His adamancy made us consent to his request. We drove over to Unity oil like they’d asked but parked around the Sports hotel; few metres from Unity Oil. Kojo called and said we had reached. The dealer insisted he was there as well but wasn’t seeing us. We all got out of the car and split ways while moving toward Unity Oil. I stayed on the phone with Kojo while he spoketo the dealer. Getting close to the Unity Oil filling station, I noticed a 2008 Pajero parked at the filling station so I quickly whispered to Kojo that he tells the guy he was standing next to that car. Shortly after I told him this, I noticed two guys hanging around the place both holding laptop bags. I noticed one of them was on phone so I guessed he was the one we had been dealing with. I stood behind the Pajero like Kojo had said and looked straight in his direction moving my lips in sync with Kojo while he spoke to them just so he would think I was the one he was talking to should he find the Pajero and see me from that distance. He looked my way, and I intentionally waved at him. 

It was then that he dropped the call and started walking towards me. I trembled slightly, but I was sure not to let the anxiety show. The police who were hanging around kept their eyes on me so they remained aware of exactly what was going on. 

Eventually, the two men with the laptop bags approached me behind the Pajero and I assumed Kojo’s cover. I acted bored because I was coming allthe way from Sunyani and they had wasted enough of my time. Upon asking for the laptop, they said they didn’t carry it along and that we should go to the shop in Bantama so I could inspect it there. I acted as though it was such a great inconvenience since 

I was to go to work and return to Sunyani that same day. While I vented at them, the 3 police officers slowly surrounded us. When they had well covered us, the one in charge asked that they open their bags for a quick inspection. This is the part where I started shaking and feeling very nervous. The one we had talked to on phone opened his first and we found just some old dell laptop in it. The second guy also opened the first compartment of his bag and it was filled with laptop chargers. He reluctantly opened the other compartment and here it was; my laptop. My voice shook while I blurted intricate information about the computer in a quest to prove it was truly mine. When the laptop was inspected on site, it perfectly fit my description. Trust me, you can’t imagine how good I felt. The two guys were cuffed and brought back to the station. 

On our way, the leader of the two, said he had purchased the laptop from a KNUST student. Bam! My thoughts were about to be confirmed. He briefly described the said student and I realized my roommate was the one who best fit that description. He asked if I had a photo, to which I answered in the affirmative. I showed him a photo on my phone and he said that wasn’t the person. He was right; it couldn’t have been the person whose picture I showed him. That was Patrick, a friend studying outside the country so indeed it couldn’t have been him. I showed him a wrong picture just to be sure he wasn’t some desperate person looking to make a patsy or a fall guy out of some innocent person. I then showed him a picture of my roommate and he stated unequivocally that it was he who had sold them the item. He added that, before they purchase the laptop from, they were convinced it wasn’t a stolen item since Roomie’s photos were all over it; wallpaper, screensaver, etc. 

For now, this guy’s story remained just that; a story. The only way to confirm it was to question Roomie who was at the time at lectures. How to get him to the station was a problem. I spoke to my sister to update her when she mentioned I could use our room keys as bait so I did. I called Roomie and told him I had lost my keys and needed his urgently. He said there was not a chance he could bring it to me, so I suggested coming for it. He knew I didn’t know the new arts faculty so he gave me a pretty good description of how to get there. I went with the same police officers and he was picked up. The officer in charge told him he was being picked up because our lost items had been retrieved and so he needed to come get his. This is when I realized the guy was cold; I mean, if I was in his situation, my body language would spell out guilt but he remained calm like nothing happened.

At the station, he was questioned in my presence and he stuck to the fact that he knew nothing about it all. After a while, he said he would talk only on condition that I left the room. I did, after the officers agreed to his request. I stayed out for some few minutes after which the police men got out. When they did, they informed me they had to make another arrest in town and that they would be back shortly. It didn’t take being a Mike Ross or a Patrick Jane to realize he had confessed. Just like they had said, they came back shortly with some other guys. It was then I found the missing pieces of the puzzle; Roomie sold the i7 laptop on the Friday before that day to some guys at a computer shop in town for as little as ghs750. The buyer (the guys who were just brought in) also sold it to the one who posted it on tonaton for ghs1,300. And oh, it was going for ghs1,880 on tonaton. While Roomie stood behind bars, he begged for clemency and asked if I could let it all go. My response was simple; “It’s really out of my hands now. You brought it all on yourself”. If you think that was me being wicked, consider the fact that if he could do what he did, then he was capable of snapping the life out of me while I probably lay in bed one night.

Later that evening my aunt dropped me back at my faculty during a surveying lecture. Your guess is right; I couldn’t concentrate, the gloating wouldn’t stop.

I most definitely couldn’t have retrieved the laptop without God and I’ll forever remain grateful to him. My family was right there with me whole; Aunti Em, Uncle Kofi and Kojo inclusive; they are family. The Police were good, they proved that they deserved a little more credit than the populace gave them. The KNUST Dean of students’ office was aware and showed sufficient support and for that I’m indebted to all the above. 

Oh the lesson I learnt? Simple; Don’t you dare trust a soul.


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