In a bid to discourage theft on the streets of Kuta, police in Bali yesterday decided to exhibit five alleged thieves who were recently apprehended for stealing valuables, mostly phones, from foreigners.
The five suspects who were exhibited by the Denpasar Police at the Bali Bombing Memorial on Legian Street yesterday were identified by their initials IGE (32), IKR (30), IWJ (25), IKB (25), and IWG (26). All are residents of Karangasem and were accused of theft in Kuta.
IGE and IKR reportedly snatched a cell phone belonging to an Australian national who was walking back to his villa on Aug. 3, while IWJ and IKB stole a phone belonging to another Australian traveler on July 27. A solo thief, IWG snatched a phone from an Indian tourist who was walking on a street in Kuta.
Under Indonesian law, each suspect may face up to seven years behind bars for theft.
Denpasar Police Chief Bambang Yugo Pamungkas told reporters that law enforcers decided to hold a press conference at the site, as well as “showcasing” the criminals there, as a strong warning against theft in the area.
“We want to show people that whatever happened in Kuta and the surrounding areas in relation to theft cases with tourists as victims, we agreed that we will conduct a firm and measured action,” he said.
It should be noted that, in Indonesian police lingo, “firm and measured action” refers to shooting criminals on the spot.
Furthermore, police displaying criminals in press conferences is the norm in Indonesia, but suspects are usually afforded the opportunity to obscure their faces in order to protect their identity. Not only were the five suspects in this press conference unmasked, this was also a rare occurrence in which the press conference took place outside of a police station.
The press conference took place just a day after a clip showing locals “sweeping” the streets in the area for any sus individuals went viral over the weekend.
The video was a follow up from another video showing a male foreigner almost having his phone swiped while hanging out with his friends on Kuta’s Poppies Street went viral last Friday.