Sat, 12 Apr 2003

Organized theft of bags uncovered at airport

Multa Fidrus, The Jakarta Post, Tangerang

An organized ring of thieves who had been stealing valuables from baggage at Soekarno-Hatta International Airport was broken up on Friday.

Those arrested included three baggage handlers, a security supervisor and a check-in staff member, all of whom worked at the airport.

The airport police have arrested a total of six suspects, including a man who allegedly bought 230 grams of gold jewelry the airport workers stole from the bags of Citylink Airplane passengers traveling to Denpasar on Jan. 4.

The three baggage handlers were identified as Asep, 24, and Nur Arifin, 27, both residents of Rawa Lele village, Tangerang municipality, and Satiri, 21, a resident of Teluk Naga district in Tangerang regency. They are employed at PT Indonesia National Airline (INA).

The security supervisor was identified as Ferry Sanjaya, 25, a resident of Cakung subdistrict, East Jakarta, who is employed at PT Jasa Angkasa Semesta (JAS). He was assigned to search baggage handlers after they loaded passengers' bags onto airplanes.

According to the police, Ferry, a father of one who has worked for PT JAS for four years, said his part in the thefts was to allow the baggage handlers to leave the loading area unchecked.

He said he took part in the thefts because his salary was not large enough to support his family. "I got a share of Rp 3.5 million from the stolen goods."

Two other suspects have been identified as Hasim, 30, a check- in staff member employed at PT Jasa Dirga and Bahrullah, 53, a resident of Bugel Mas Indah housing complex in Karawaci district, Tangerang municipality, who allegedly bought the stolen goods from the five other suspects. Another suspect identified as AP Siang is still at large.

"The thefts were organized and used a new modus operandi, so it took us a long time to get to the bottom of it and arrest the suspects," said the head of the airport police, Adj. Comr. Sri Suari Wahyudi.

She said the suspects employed at the airport had been previously questioned by the police but had been released because of a lack of evidence.

The police then assigned several plainclothes officers to shadow the suspects, which eventually led to their arrests.

According to the police, the suspects testified that they received Rp 20 million from Bahrullah for 230 grams of gold jewelry they stole on Jan. 4. Bahrullah then allegedly sold the jewelry to a gold store in Pasar Anyer, Tangerang, for Rp 22 million.

The police seized three gold bracelets from the suspects as evidence.

One of the baggage handlers, Satiri, testified that he used a ballpoint pen to break open the zippers of bags.

"After taking the valuables from the baggage, we would pull the zipper back together so there was no sign that the baggage had been opened," he said.

Suari noted that the police would have to restudy the existing security measures in place to protect passenger baggage.

"So far we have received three complaints about similar cases and we believe that there have been more people who have been victimized but who did not file a report with the police," she said.