Wed, 05 Mar 2003

Police warn of rising street crimes

Damar Harsanto, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

While introducing a new method of categorizing crimes in Jakarta, the City Police warned on Tuesday over the increasing trend of street crimes in the capital city.

"The (street crime) category has been established to place special attention on quashing such offenses, amid the rising concerns regarding street crimes," City Police Detectives chief Sr. Comr. Andi Chaeruddin told The Jakarta Post.

Andi elaborated that the street crime category constituted five types of crimes, including mugging of bank customers and extortion aboard public transportation vehicles, which have been on the rise.

"Based on our analysis of crime patterns, we conclude that there has been a shift in the crime scene (from residential areas) to the streets, partly thanks to heightened security upheld by local residents," said Andi.

Data from the city police operational and control division shows that street crime was the second prominent crime category in the city from January through February, after drug-related crime.

Data showed that in January, 33 cases of street crime were reported to police, while in February, 34 cases were reported.

Meanwhile, three muggings of bank customers were reported to the police in the first two months of this year, compared to five cases in 2002 and six cases in 2001, from the same months.

The report also showed 18 mugging cases committed on the streets from January to February, which targeted passengers of public transportation vehicles, including buses, taxis and public minivans.

Despite the increasing trend of street crimes, drug-related crimes topped the list with 225 cases in January and 132 cases in February.

In the first two months of 2003, the police received 4,320 cases, of which they had managed to solve around 1,500.

Many experts have warned that in reality, the crime rate was much higher than the official figure, owing to the great number of unreported cases.

Many people are reluctant to report any crimes of which they have been victims, because of the police's poor performance so far in handling reported cases.

Adrianus Meliala, a criminologist at the University of Indonesia, welcomed the new street crime category as a step forward in improving police services for the public.

"The streets are public places. Improvements in the way we cope with crime on the streets, also mean improvements in public service," Adrianus said.

Adrianus, who is also an adviser to National Police Headquarters, contended that the street crime data would give police more accurate information for them to use in effectively curbing the rise in street crime.

He added that, for example, police could recommend the city administration to install more street lamps in crime-infested areas, or even surveillance cameras to deter any criminal activity. Further, police patrols in those areas could also be increased.

The city police plan to procure 500 patrol cars this year in an attempt to reduce the number of street crimes. The new cars are to be equipped with the Global Positioning System (GPS) technology, which enables the police switchboard to monitor each car and contact them anytime, anywhere.

The city police have received 364 of the new cars so far, but only six are already equipped with the GPS technology.

Meanwhile, Adrianus warned that the improvement in the data records would be useless if the police failed to act upon the existing data.