With the threat of burglaries expected to increase during the Idul Fitri holiday and the questionable ability of the police to protect the city, residents taking part in the annual exodus out of the city are finding ways to make sure their houses remain safe.
Some residents are throwing money at the problem, spending millions hiring guards from private security firms.
“My family is hiring a security guard as we plan to leave the city tomorrow to visit my parents in Mojokerto [East Java] for a week,” Inneke (not her real name) told The Jakarta Post on Tuesday.
Inneke said hiring a security guard cost Rp 350,000 (US$38.85) per day.
She said that her neighbor’s house in South Jakarta was robbed four years ago when the occupants left on a long holiday.
“Because of the incident, we decided we would hire a security guard each time we wanted to leave for an extended period,” she said.
Private security contractor Karya Dharma Integrated Security Foundation said it had been enjoying robust business since last weekend.
“Five new clients have signed contracts for us to guard their empty houses for about five days,” company spokesman Syaiful Anwar told the Post, adding that the company served 50 clients each month.
The company charges incidental clients Rp 175,000 for each guard’s 12-hour shift.
He added, “We post one guard at each house and give clients updates every six hours.”
Criminologist Mohammad Irvan Olii said the burglary rate increased during long holidays, such as Idul Fitri, because criminals had more opportunities to rob empty houses.
Jim Kurnia, the vice president of security firm PT Secom Indopratama, said the number of the company’s clients had increased 25 percent ahead of this year’s holiday.
“We charge our clients monthly fees even if they only use our service for a week or two,” he said, but declined to list the monthly fee.
Some homeowners, however, see no need to use the services provided by such companies.
Arian Herlambang, a resident of Kebon Jeruk in West Jakarta, said he frequently asked one of his neighbors to watch over his house while away on holiday.
“Our neighbors have also asked us to watch over their houses while they are away, so vacations are arranged based on who’s around,” he said.
“Tomorrow I travel to Bandung and Bogor [West Java] with my family for three days while my neighbor will only leave Saturday.”
A resident of Pegangsaan Dua in East Jakarta, Mieke Anthony, said she trusted the security of her house to the community-based patrols (Siskamling).
“We can’t rely on police because the number of officers is very limited. You can’t expect them to guard the whole city,” she told the Post.
This year, Jakarta Police announced they would deploy 7,239 officers to guard areas with high crime rates, such as bus terminals, train stations, airports and the Tanjung Priok Port.
The police would also patrol roads and residential areas in the city.
“We are aware there is a limited number of officers, so we call on homeowners to be more alert because criminals usually target empty houses during the holiday,” Jakarta Police spokesman Sr. Comr. Boy Rafli Amar said.
He encouraged residents to check on locks, stoves, electricity and water before leaving their houses.
“If necessary, residents should install CCTV cameras or alarms,” he added. (rch)