Corruption, Grabbing and Development
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Corruption, Grabbing and Development

Real World Challenges

Edited by Tina Søreide and Aled Williams

All societies develop their own norms about what is fair behaviour and what is not. Violations of these norms, including acts of corruption, can collectively be described as forms of ‘grabbing’. This unique volume addresses how grabbing hinders development at the sector level and in state administration. The contributors – researchers and practitioners who work on the ground in developing countries – present empirical data on the mechanisms at play and describe different types of unethical practices.
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Chapter 6: Grabbing by strangers: crime and policing in Kenya1

Jens Chr. Andvig and Tiberius Barasa


The archetypical form of grabbing is stealing, plain and simple. This is where someone simply grabs some object without any form of compensation to the owner ñ who might have invested in the ownership or has, by other socially legitimate ways, established ownership rights over it. In crime statistics we may distinguish between different forms of stealing such as burglary, robbery, pick pocketing, car theft and so on. We can also usefully distinguish between theft accompanied with or without (threats of) violence. In large societies the scope of random theft through the use of violence is greater since mass mobility and large populations mean the risk of identification may be modest. Theft by known perpetrators may also be combined with violence either under a Hobbesian-like state of nature, where the strongest may steal: if the perpetrator and owner belong to different jurisdictions, or if the owner of the object has to submit to an organization that may apply violence on a regular basis, such as a local gang . The main method so far to gauge quantitatively the extent of citizen-to-citizen grabbing is by means of victimization studies where a sample of citizens are asked about their (or their householdís) experiences with crime during a given period.

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