Tue, 09 Mar 1999

Police shoot dead three armed robbery suspects

JAKARTA (JP): Police shot dead three men in East Jakarta on Sunday for resisting arrest after officers tried to detain them as suspects in a notorious series of violent robberies in the capital over the last two months.

Jakarta Police detective chief Col. Alex Bambang Riatmojo identified the men shot in Kampung Tengah, Kramat Jati, as Sastra, 27, a resident of Kampung Tengah, Andi alias Endi, 30, who lived in the Kramat Jati market area, and Kodir bin Sardar, 30, a resident of Janra village in Serang, West Java.

"The three were shot dead because they resisted arrest and even challenged our officers with their weapons," Alex said.

He identified three detained men as Dulhajat, 27, who was shot in his right leg, Budi, 28, and Asep alias Cecep, 30.

The six are believed to be members of the gang of armed robbers suspected of committing at least 15 violent robberies in Jakarta and other areas during January and February.

From robberies netting about Rp 2 billion, each member of the 17-person gang reportedly obtained at least Rp 50 million, according to Dulhajat.

"They didn't remember the precise number of the robberies, but from our calculation, it's around 30 or 40 robberies," Alex said.

The gang also committed robberies in several cities in West Java and Lampung, he alleged.

"From the preliminary investigation, Dulhajat, Budi and Cecep admitted their gang consisted of 17 members, but only 13 of them are active," Alex said.

The other four were arrested earlier in separate raids. They subsequently tipped off detectives about their accomplices' hideouts, Alex said.

Officers immediately went to Sastra's rented house at 3 p.m. when the men were playing cards.

Alex said the police and the suspects were involved in an exchange of gunfire.

He declined to provide further details of the arrest, saying they were part of a confidential police investigation.

"It's just a usual arrest made by our police detectives," he said.

There were no details on whether any officers were injured.

Most recently the gang is believed to have robbed two traders in their home in Pondok Gede, Bekasi, on Friday and made off with Rp 43 million in cash.

It is also suspected in the robbery of a businessman's house in Bendungan Hilir, Central Jakarta, in which items stolen included a safety box, and a house in Pondok Kelapa in East Jakarta belonging to then Jakarta Police detective chief Col. Wagiman.

"We have not yet found the stolen goods as evidence, but we'll still build the case," Alex said.

Police confiscated three pistols, several sharp weapons, screwdrivers and crowbars during Sunday's operation.

The gang used a classic robbery modus operandi of breaking front doors or windows of homes and threatening owners with weapons. In most cases, they wounded residents to scare other house members.

Dulhajat told reporters his gang operated from Monday to Friday, but believed Sunday was not an opportune day for robberies.

"We usually went around the city to check houses for our next targets. We spent our money for entertainment on Saturdays."

All members were obliged to sleep well and not allowed to tax themselves on Sundays, he added.

Dulhajat said most robbers relied on a traditional system in gauging the best days to operate.

However, Alex said it was only by chance the police raided the men on their rest day.

"It's just a coincidence that they were gathering in their hideout and we made the arrests. We only knew about the days calculation after we questioned them." (emf)