By Evelyn Usman
It was the end of the road for a 32-year-old woman alleged to be engaged in stealing in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, following her arrest by operatives of the Rivers State Police Command.
The single parent was arrested in her Ikoyi residence in Lagos, for allegedly stealing goods worth N2.9 million.
Described as a socialite, and judging from classy appearance, soft-spoken Ifeoma William Iheanacho does not look like a criminal.
Aside this physical feature is the fact that the suspect, popularly called Ify, possesses an international passport which showed she has made trips to Hungary, Dubai, China and has even lived in Hong Kong for three years. She also speaks different languages and quite knowledgeable about many things.
The suspect, from Mbieri community in Mbaitolu Local Government Area of Imo State , according to the Rivers State Police Command, visited Zara Boutique at 4, Mbonu Street, D/line, Port Harcourt, on March 26, 2014, posing as a wealthy customer and a friend of the owner, one Mrs Oroma Amadi. Prior to the visit, Ify reportedly acquainted herself with the owner.
On that day, the shop owner was out. “She entered the shop asking to be shown the female trousers area. The unsuspecting salesgirl, Kemeagbeye Rachael, 21, led the suspect to the area where she selected two pairs of trousers and bargained but was dissatisfied with the price and requested to speak to the shop owner. When the salesgirl put a call through to her ‘madam’, Ifeoma spoke with her and consequently the unsuspecting salesgirl agreed to her demand,” a police source narrated.
“After conversing with Mrs Amadi on phone, Ifeoma didn’t give phone back to the sales girl. Instead she asked her to go into the inner part of the store to get some other wares for her. While Rachel was busy sorting out other things as directed , Ifeoma proceeded to edit the ‘madam’s’ contact on the phone which was still with her, by replacing the number with her’s. Then she gave the phone back and minutes later, she sent a text message to the girl posing as her boss. The message sent read thus ‘ I’m in a meeting , Mrs Jay is already in the shop. ‘Pls give her what she wants, I will pick the money on my way to the shop’.”
Shortly after that another message came which read ‘ also give her the hair box’. To further convince the salesgirl, she was said to have asked her if she had received any text message from the owner of the shop in respect of the transaction, to which she responded in the affirmative.
At that point, the sales girl, in her statement to the police, said Ifeoma started packing the wares selected. She allegedly selected assorted wares ranging from female bags to clothes, wrist watches, male/female shoes and shirts estimated at N2.9 million and left the boutique.
Hell, literally let loose when owner of the boutique arrived ,only to be confronted with the unexpected. Her sales girl was stunned beyond description on noticing that she had been fooled!
The case was immediately reported to the Rivers State Special Anti-Robbery Squad which initially found the theft a difficult nut to crack because of its clueless nature. However, the breakthrough the operatives needed came two months later when they were able to track the suspect’s call data through a complex set of operation.
Police sources said: “ One Ikechukwu Onyema, aka Van Damme , later discovered to have bought the stolen goods from Ifeoma, was contacted. His confessional statement led us to the suspect’s place in Lagos from where she was transferred to Port Harcourt . Some of the stolen goods were recovered from her.
“During interrogation, the mother of one, who claimed she had both her primary and secondary education in Abia State, also claimed to have been a student of theatre arts at University of Ibadan before dropping out after she became pregnant.
“ She confessed to have carried out similar operations in different boutiques in Port Harcourt using her one time fiancé’s Lexus jeep to pose as an affluent customer. After her confession, she soberly said; ‘I want Nigerians to forgive me, I still can’t understand why I chose to steal seeing that I am a comfortable lady.”
Rivers State Commissioner of Police Tunde Ogunsakin, while reacting to the arrest , advised members of the public to be mindful of the people they deal with, adding that such incident could befall anyone who turns a blind eye to caution while doing business.
“This case involves a really smart criminal, one that you won’t easily suspect and it can happen to any person. So we can all see that one cannot be too careful when dealing with customers and other members of society”, stated Ogunsakin.