Sat, 27 Mar 1999

Police seize 25 vehicles from three auto theft gangs

JAKARTA (JP): City police detectives have confiscated 25 stolen vehicles, mostly Kijang and Isuzu Panther vans and Feroza jeeps, in the last two weeks.

Chief of the Jakarta Police detectives Col. Alex Bambang Riatmodjo told reporters on Friday the vehicles were seized from three auto theft gangs.

"We've busted six members of the gangs, while the other five are still at large."

Police said each of the gangs had varying numbers of members.

Alex identified the suspects as Wawan, Andi, Edi, Sumarno, Rudy and Surip.

The first four are from one gang. Rudy was involved with three others, all of whom are still at large. Surip is also believed to have worked with two accomplices.

The gangs used different techniques in the thefts, Alex said.

"Wawan's group, for example, applied the outdated modus operandi of first observing the area in their own car to look for targets before stealing the people's vehicles using duplicate ignition keys."

Wawan's gang members were all nabbed in the town of Cirebon in West Java. Police confiscated 13 cars, including a black BMW sedan.

Police considered Rudy's group violent because members often wounded others during the theft.

Alex said the gang focused its operation on rental company vehicles. Pretending to be a businessman, Rudy hired cars for a one-day trip to Bogor or Bandung.

On the way, Rudy would ask the driver to pull over at a particular location on the pretense that he wanted to pick up friends.

"Shortly after his friends were already inside the car, the group pulled rope around the driver's neck, beat him and abandoned him in a deserted area," Alex said.

Rudy was arrested on Monday at his residence in Joglo, West Jakarta. From his house, which he also used illegally as a showroom, police confiscated five cars, all believed to be stolen.

Surip and his two gang members usually began their operations by making inspections using two motorcycles.

"If they found the right cars, one of the group members then started the operation by damaging the car's door lock and starting the engine by using fake keys," Alex said.

"For backup, the other members waited on alert on the other motorcycle to watch the situation."

Surip was arrested on Monday in Bogor.

From information he provided, police have been able to trace the whereabouts of seven Kijang vans, sold to a secondhand car dealer in the Cibinong area.

Alex recommended that people with recently missing vehicles should visit the city police headquarters on Jl. Sudirman in South Jakarta. Seized vehicles are on display in one of the compound's parking lots.

"Help police to settle the matter by checking the cars here and claiming if one of them is yours," he said. (emf)