VIDEO: How a Ghanaian Fire Service uniformed man was caught shoplifting and stealing a phone by a CCTV camera


A Ghana National Fire Service (GNFS) firefighter who did something unexpected inside a supermarket thought his actions were hidden, so when a video of his actions was shown to him by his superiors, he held his head in disbelief.

From the direction of the Upper East Regional Hospital, the shop is on the edge of a road that joins the Bolgatanga-Navrongo Highway. It is painted a deep shade of green, and an upright board with the bold name Joy Step Supermarket is nailed to the roof.

On the hot and humid night of June 1, 2022, the firefighter, Ibrahim Mohammed Alemiakurugo, had joined a number of customers at the store.

A young man wearing a polo shirt who had previously made purchases at the store and left reappeared shortly after the fireman left. Mohammed Sidi is a computer technician that some Bolgatanga residents are familiar with.

The young man hurriedly returned to the grocery store after taking long strides. He appeared extremely hopeless.

He complained to the employees at the sales counter that his black Tecno smartphone had vanished. He confessed to them that he might have forgotten to take it off the counter while making his purchase.

His complaint temporarily halted sales activity. As the search for the phone began, the shop was transformed into an unusual scene. However, the sales staff had first discussed the possibility of the device's disappearance among themselves.

The customer who became a complainant was left speechless in front of the counter while the search was underway. He ran his fingers through his hair in disbelief and occasionally let out a long sigh of despair.

His concern extended beyond the phone's contact list. He had been hired to complete some graphic design projects within a short period of time. The tasks had been completed, but they hadn't yet been sent to his impatient customers. Additionally, those pieces of work existed on that smartphone.

There was no way to recover, and the search was taking so long. However, the irritated customer made the sudden suggestion that the sales staff view the footage from his initial visit through the store's security camera system.

Based on that advice, they decided to switch to a desktop computer connected to the variety store's Closed-Circuit Television (CCTV) system instead of continuing their search.

An Unlikely Suspect Found All eyes were fixed on the security monitor's 12-inch screen. A collection of video clips from a computer file was selected. The playback button was then hit with a finger.

On the screen, a customer in uniform appeared. He didn't have his service cap on his head. The black beret was partially protruding like a tail from beneath his untucked shirt and was rather stuck halfway into a pocket at the back of his pants.

The policeman stopped in front of a stocked shelf after passing through a store passageway. He folded and returned a roll of powdered milk sachets from the rack to the shelf. He then went to the same shelf for another roll of a different brand of powdered milk.

Similar to how someone who is about to commit a crime would first check to see if they are being watched, he stretched his neck and looked over the top of the shelf.

After that, he looked at the item. He carefully extended his neck once more over the shelf's top. He then folded the roll, slipped it into his left trouser pocket, and concealed it by lowering his shirt.

While adjusting his shirt with both hands to ensure that the items he had stuffed into the pocket were well hidden, he continued to look over the top of the rack.

He was also seen picking two more rolls in the video. However, he dropped those just as a second customer joined him at the shelf.

On the screen, another scene involving the same firefighter appeared. The complainant had a suspicion that he had left the phone, so this time he was at the counter. He was staring intently at a baked food item that was wrapped in a transparent polybag in his right hand.

At that point, the complainant showed up wearing black trousers and a white polo shirt as she made her way toward the counter. Sidi was seen making his way toward the cash register with a slim, dark complexion and his left hand holding a black smartphone to his left ear.

He took some money out of his pockets when he got to the counter. He started looking at the money after placing the phone on the counter.

The firefighter placed the baked food item next to a sachet of premix tea powder that was already on the countertop while the young man was looking over the notes. A loaf of bread was taken out of a black polybag on the counter, placed on a shelf that was within arm's reach, and he reached for it.

One could see Sidi making a payment. However, after making the payment, he left the phone on top of the counter. He took his change and put the phone away. However, he remained at the cash register, looking in every direction but back. Near the counter, the fireman was standing with a few customers. He was just looking and turning around in the same place, doing nothing else.

He got closer to the counter after a while. After a second glance around to make sure no one was watching, he wrapped the phone in a black polybag and stuffed it in the pocket of his pants with the polybag. Just before the owner of the phone picked up his own bag and left the store, he took the phone from the counter.

Search and Investigation At first, the supermarket's owners weren't sure if the man caught stealing from their store was a firefighter after watching the footage. And none of the people who saw it firsthand knew where to find him right away.

Joyceline Abiire, one of the store managers, told the story about a relative who works as a firefighter at the Ghana National Fire Service (GNFS) national headquarters in Accra.

She stated to The Fourth Estate, "I forwarded the video to him and asked him if it was their uniform." He took a look at it and made sure it was their uniform.

He reported the situation on a national scale. The Regional Commander was then contacted via phone. The return of the customer's phone was my goal.

ACFO Anthony Gyasi Boateng, the Upper East Regional Fire Commander, subsequently called Abiire. He stated that he would send a team to the supermarket to investigate the alleged act.

The team went to the store and asked the employees their questions after that phone conversation.

However, prior to the visit, the Regional Commander summoned the firefighter to his office after receiving clips of the footage from the national headquarters.

The Regional Commander told The Fourth Estate, pointing to an upholstered seat in his office and expressing his disappointment, "I brought him here." He was shown the video. He admitted the offense and confirmed that he was the one in the video.

We established a committee. They saw him. We wrote down everything he said and sent it to our headquarters.

Prior to the team's visit to the supermarket, the mobile phone, rolls of powdered milk, and premix tea powder were also retrieved from him by the Regional Commander. The man had some of the tea and milk.

The investigation team returned the remaining food items to the supermarket along with the phone, which had been turned off for weeks since it had been taken from its owner. The team reimbursed the store for the previously used items by paying Gh20:40p.

The firefighter was detained shortly after the inquiry visit, pending the GNFS national headquarters' final decision.

After getting his phone back, Sidi told The Fourth Estate in an interview, "I least suspected that the person who stole it was a fire officer." The loss both worried and enraged me. It had an effect on my company.

People had given me some work to do, but I couldn't finish it on time because I didn't have my phone, so they had to move the work somewhere else. Some people wanted to assign me new work, but when they called me, my line was disconnected. They changed their minds as well. Those coins that could have been mine went missing.

Reactions and dismissal A number of GNFS officers have expressed their shock at Alemiakurugo's actions because he was dressed in his uniform at the time.

The Regional Commander stated, "It might have been a different story if he was in mufti." However, in uniform, it is truly pathetic for us.

The firefighter was let go on July 17, 2022. The Fourth Estate received confirmation of the dismissal from DOIII Callistus Nibunu, the Public Relations Officer for the GNFS in the Upper East Region.

He also shared the Regional Commander's concern that the development had significantly damaged the GNFS's image.

“His dismissal letter was sent because conclusive evidence was provided that he committed the act. In uniform, the act was committed. In terms of the service's image, this sends a very negative message.

There is no organization that wants to be associated with such an act. The service has also used Legislative Instrument 1725, which we are all bound by, to apply the appropriate punishment as expected, which is indeed a dent in the service's image.

The firefighter's dismissal occurred just as he was about to take his first promotion exam, according to the Regional Commander. If he had taken the exam and passed, he would have been elevated from Fireman (FM) to Leading Fireman (LFM).

The firefighter reacted to his dismissal by calling the punishment "too harsh." He claimed that when he received his release letter on July 30, 2022, some of his coworkers' eyes were filled with tears of sympathy.

It was true that it took place. However, I believed the committee would have balanced justice with compassion. He stated, "The dismissal is too harsh. I don't want to go free.

He continued: In the Savannah Region, an officer recently stole items from our office. His rank was lowered by you. He was not dismissed by you. They should have withheld my wages for a few months because I was a first-time offender.

In the region, opinions regarding the firefighter's removal from office are divided. A disappointing outcome would have been anything less than firing, according to some residents.

It shouldn't end with being fired. He ought to be put on trial. Eric Abambire Nsoh, a healthcare worker, remarked, "I think the laws of Ghana need to follow once it has been established that he stole the things."

Some believe that he should be punished not only for the harm he has done to the GNFS's image but also for some of the possible financial losses his theft may have caused. However, they believe that his dismissal is excessive for a married man.

The rule of law has not been observed, in my opinion. I deplore what he did. However, this is trivial theft. He ought to be punished, but not to the point of being fired. I think it would be fine to transfer or reduce rank.

We are aware of individuals who remain in the fire service despite having committed worse offenses. Because he would have been fined rather than dismissed if he had gone through the legal system, the rule of law has not been followed. Tii-roug Zumah Yaro, an educator, stated, "The fire service has no right to dismiss him because he has not yet been found guilty by a court of competent jurisdiction."

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