Police kill alleged mastermind of minimart heists in Greater Jakarta
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The Jakarta Police said on Thursday that a man believed to have orchestrated a string of robberies targeting 24-hour minimarkets in Greater Jakarta was shot dead on Thursday morning during a raid on his house in Cempaka Putih, Central Jakarta.
City police spokesman Sr. Comr. Rikwanto said that the man, identified as MHD, 41, might have been responsible for 36 minimarket robberies in Greater Jakarta in the past six months.
The suspect carried a gun and attempted to escape, the police said. “We had to shoot him as he did not stop running even after we fired a warning shot,” Rikwanto said, adding that the bullet hit the man’s back.
MHD’s range of suspected criminal activities covered Greater Jakarta and reached out to West Java, particularly in Cikampek and Karawang. The man is thought to have raked in Rp 800 million [US$85,600] from the 36 robberies he allegedly committed.
Rikwanto said that the police were able to track MHD down from the testimony of his accomplice, KMD, who was arrested in Bintara Jaya, Bekasi, West Java hours before the raid on MHD house.
KMD provided testimony that led to the arrest of another suspect, WS, in Kemayoran, Central Jakarta. KMD and WS were part of MHD’s crew in Tuesday’s robbery of an Alfamart on Jl. Bangka Raya, Mampang Prapatan, South Jakarta. The group robbed the minimarket at 4:30 a.m. on Tuesday. They threatened three employees with machetes and tied them up with shoelaces. Binding store attendants’ hands and feet with shoelaces has MHD’s signature way of conducting robberies.
The group then stole Rp 46 million from the safe-deposit box and took employees’ cell phones and the store’s CCTV decoder to prevent the attendants from immediately calling police and to cover their tracks.
Three other men suspected to have been involved in the robbery are still at large. Rikwanto said the fugitives were not involved in previous robberies orchestrated by MHD.
Rikwanto said that MHD changed crews each time he conducted a robbery to avoid being tracked down. “It is very likely that MHD is the main perpetrator behind those robberies, and none of his crews were regularly involved in the robberies,” he said.
Rikwanto said that MHD gathered men at his house before each robbery for planning purposes and afterward for dividing up the stolen money. All the weapons used for the robberies were also stored in MHD’s house, he said.
From his house, police have confiscated various items used in or collected from the robberies, including nine machetes, a CCTV decoder and 26 cell phones.
Police also suspect MHD was a drug user after finding an amount of marijuana and putaw (low-grade heroine) in his house.
Rikwanto said that the death of MHD did not mean the end of minimarkets robberies, as police were still looking into the possibility of other syndicates in operation.
Moreover, police plan to broaden their investigation as 10 or more men probably played roles in MHD’s previous robberies.
With minimarket robberies becoming widespread, police cooperated with the Indonesian Retailers Association (Aprindo) in June to install a panic button system in numerous minimarkets in North Jakarta.
The panic button, once pushed, alerts the nearest police precinct.
Local police stepped up patrols around several 24-hour minimarkets.
However, police have also warned minimarket operators to not only rely on police, and advised them to equip their 24-hour stores with private security guards. (aml)