Gianyar student caught stealing money from a temple says she needs it to pay her tuition

A student in Gianyar caught on CCTV stealing money from a local temple on June 20, 2022. Photo: Screengrab.
A student in Gianyar caught on CCTV stealing money from a local temple on June 20, 2022. Photo: Screengrab.

A young student in Tegallalang, Gianyar who was caught by CCTV cameras stealing cash from a temple claimed that she needed the money to pay off her past-due tuition, police said.

The 15-year-old student has been identified by her initials ESP. In total, ESP, who attended a local vocational school, stole IDR170,000 (US$11.45) after breaking a donation box in a temple in Sebatu Village on Monday.

The money was part of sesari, which is an ongoing donation drive to financially aid people who maintain and run Balinese Hindu temples. ESP, who was in her school uniform during the theft, immediately used the money to pay off her tuition fees.

A clip of her petty crime went viral on social media.

Tegallalang Police Chief I Ketut Sudita said that the pupil has been in custody since Tuesday.

“The suspect confessed to her crime,” Sudita said, adding that the police are still investigating the case. 

Separately, Banjar Pulung Chief I Nyoman Ardita said ESP and her family have reached out to the temple and asked for forgiveness.

“We accepted the apology but in terms of law we can’t comment. There is no withdrawing the complaint yet because there is an item that was destroyed,” he said, pointing out to the donation box that ESP had broken to steal the cash.

Ardita added that the temple is scheduled to perform a special ceremony to erase negative vibes stemming from the crime. There are also plans to install more CCTV cameras in the establishment. 

I Wayan Semadi, the headmaster of ESP’s school, said they will not interfere in the police investigation towards the pupil. Semadi also confirmed that ESP had failed to pay one year’s worth of tuition, but he did not specify the amount owed.

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