Fri, 12 May 2000

Cloth thief jumps from third floor of Pasaraya

JAKARTA (JP): A 20-year-old man who was apprehended on Thursday morning by security guards after being caught stealing clothes at the seven-story Pasaraya department store in Blok M, South Jakarta, decided to escape by taking a free fall from the third floor of the building.

Police said the suspected thief, Slamet Widodo, was alive but in a comatose condition at Soekanto Police Hospital in Kramat Jati, East Jakarta.

Reporters received two versions of the capture and the dangerous escape of Slamet.

But both versions revealed that Slamet was caught by two security guards of the store on Wednesday afternoon for allegedly stealing clothes from Pasaraya.

According to the police, Slamet jumped from a window on the third floor after the two security guards, who caught the thief on Wednesday, removed his handcuffs.

"We have questioned the security guards, Sulianto and Suroto, as to why they did not hand the thief over to the police immediately after they caught him stealing?

"So far, the two guards have been unable to give us straight answers," South Jakarta Police chief of detectives Maj. Ahmad Alwi said.

The guards, he said, only told police investigators that they agreed to unlock Slamet's handcuffs at about 3:40 a.m. on Thursday following a request from the suspect, who said he wanted to see wounds on his wrists which were caused by the handcuffs.

Shortly after the guards agreed to remove the handcuffs, Slamet ran away from the stunned pair and jumped from a window.

According to a member of staff at the store, Budi, the thief was arrested at about 5 p.m. on Wednesday after he was found stealing about 20 items of clothing, whose prices ranged from Rp 95,000 (US$13) to Rp 700,000, on the first floor of the store.

"The security guards then arrested him and locked the guy into an empty room on the third floor.

"The thief jumped out of the window in that room, and seriously injured himself," Budi told reporters.

Officer Alwi questioned why the security guards did not immediately report the nabbing of Slamet to the police.

"The (suspected) thief was also beaten up after he was caught. The guards should have immediately surrendered him to us shortly after they apprehended him," he said.

A police source added that some of the store's security guards had been known to often blackmail suspected thieves.

"For instance, if a suspect steals something worth Rp 100,000, the guard would ask for three times the amount," the source said.

Nobody from the Pasaraya public relations department was willing to comment on the matter. (ylt)