Police ‘must act swiftly’ to take guns off streets
With a spike in armed robberies taking place in Greater Jakarta over the past few months, the Jakarta Police are being expected to work harder to cut off the circulation of illegal firearms, a police watchdog group said over the weekend.
“The police are very sluggish in cracking down on the spread of illegal guns, while armed robberies occur everyday,” Neta S. Pane, chairman of the Indonesian Police Watch (IPW), told The Jakarta Post on Sunday.
Neta said that weak law enforcement from the police had resulted in the uncontrolled circulation of arms in several parts of this country, especially in Greater Jakarta.
The IPW estimated that there were roughly around 90,000 uncontrolled illegal firearms in Indonesia. “Most of them can be found in Greater Jakarta, East Java, West Java and North Sumatra, and are used in various forms of crime like robberies,” Neta said.
Crimes using illegal firearms have been on the rise in Jakarta over the past few months, and there is no sign of the trend decreasing.
In the past week alone, five robberies occurred in the capital. The last incident took place on Sunday morning when a group robbed an Alfamart minimarket on Jl. Pahlawan Revolusi in Duren Sawit and made off with Rp 30 million (US$3,210). They threatened four shopkeepers with one firearm and four meat cleavers.
Last Friday, four robbers, who covered their faces with masks, held a man named Lutfi at gunpoint at an Alfamart minimarket in Cipinang, Jatinegara district. The robbers, whose action was captured on CCTV, escaped with Rp 60 million in cash.
On Wednesday, two men in a motorcycle robbed Asri Muhammad Noer, who had just stolen Rp 100 million in cash from a branch of Bank Mandiri in Jatinegara.
Another crime involving armed robbers occurred on the same day at an Indomaret minimarket in Makassar district. One of the two robbers, who was spotted carrying a homemade gun, was captured by local residents and was taken to the Makassar Police precinct.
On Friday, Bambang Irianto lost Rp 200 million in cash to four robbers after he withdrew it from a branch of BCA bank in Gambir, Central Jakarta. A member of the group shot Bambang in his right thigh.
East Jakarta Police criminal investigations unit chief Adj. Sr. Comr. Dian Perri said on Sunday that the police had not been able to identify the robbers of the Alfamart minimarket on Jl. Pahlawan Revolusi, Klender, East Jakarta.
However, the police suspected that the firearm was fake following information given to investigators by a witness. “A witness told us that the firearm used to threaten him was really similar to a firearm-shaped lighter,” Dian said.
Neta said that the increasing number of robbery cases showed that Jakartans were living in a very dangerous environment. “Armed robberies could happen anywhere, anytime. The police’s sporadic street raids on gun possession are far from enough,” he said.
The police recently shot dead two alleged gunsmiths who might have sold guns to robbers operating in Jakarta, in a highway chase on the Cipularang-Jograwi toll road. The guns are said to have been produced in Cipacing, Sumedang, West Java.
Neta said that police should be watching the circulation of smuggled firearms.
“Homemade firearms are dangerous, but the number isn’t significant. Smuggled guns are larger in number and are hardly monitored by police,” Neta said.
Neta added that the biggest contributor of illicit firearms came from smuggling. “Many smuggled guns are from the southern part of the Philippines or Cambodia. They enter Indonesia through East Kalimantan,” he said. (riz)