Sat, 26 Feb 2000

Police told to curb armed robberies

JAKARTA (JP): A city council speaker and a criminologist warned on Friday of the alarming level of robbery by firearms in the capital, asking police to deploy more officers at crime-prone spots and seize all unlicensed guns.

"The series of armed robberies occurring recently have brought anxiety to the city, and the police should take immediate action to halt the trend," council speaker Edy Waluyo told reporters at his office.

Considering the limited number of police personnel, the councilor suggested the Jakarta Police prioritize the deployment of its personnel to crime-prone areas.

"The police should work with other parties, such as the state- owned toll road operator PT Jasa Marga, to stop more armed robberies taking place at the toll roads," Edy said.

He was referring to at least six robberies where firearms were used on public buses plying toll roads connecting Jakarta and neighboring towns, Bogor and Cikampek, in the past three months.

The latest one took place on Wednesday on the Cikampek toll road. The three criminals, who managed to escape, killed the bus driver and his assistant and shot a passenger in the leg.

So far, police from related areas -- assisted by local military police -- have failed to arrest any of these very dangerous criminals.

In Jakarta at least five bank customers have been robbed by firearms this month.

The latest took place on Wednesday in Sunter, North Jakarta, when two robbers, one of whom was armed with a FN gun, made off with Rp 100 million (US$13,510) cash from a woman, who had withdrawn the money from a local BCA bank.

The robbers left the scene on a motorbike after shooting the woman and her driver. Both were seriously injured.

Criminologist Adrianus Meliala said the trend of robberies by firearms in Jakarta is alarming with the greedy and dangerous criminals ever looking for easy targets.

"Breaking into residential houses and immobilizing their victims has been abandoned since the technique proved ineffective for them," Adrianus, a lecturer at the University of Indonesia, told The Jakarta Post.

Sometimes, the robberies took a long time with little reward, he said.

The bandits then changed their method to the "grab and run" technique, carefully selecting their targets, such as bank customers who have withdrawn large amounts of money.

"Because they want to get big money quickly, they need a means with greater deterrence and that's guns," he said.

Adrianus, therefore, urged the city police to conduct massive raids against any illegal and unlicensed guns in the city.

According to Lt. Gen. (ret) Z.A. Maulani, former chief of the Indonesian Intelligence Body, there now are many types and calibers of unlicensed guns circulating among the people in Jakarta and many other cities in the country.

Adrianus believes the police will have difficulties dealing with the problem because now criminals easily purchase guns either from smugglers or from local assemblers.

"Also, there are many people who have licenses to possess guns, who lend or rent the weapons to other people to commit crimes.

Or, the person, who legally has the right to possess a gun, uses it for robbing," he said.

Audy Tambunan, head of the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle at the city council, said the law enforcers in Jakarta should take strict measures against any one possessing illegal guns.

"There is no privilege. All people, regardless of their status in society, must be punished in line with his wrongdoing," he said. (asa)