Vigilantes conduct weekend ‘street sweeping’ in Kuta over crime concerns

A clip showing a bunch of locals ‘sweeping’ the streets of Kuta from ‘unwanted indiviuals’ went viral on Aug. 7, 2022. Photo: Screengrab.
A clip showing a bunch of locals ‘sweeping’ the streets of Kuta from ‘unwanted indiviuals’ went viral on Aug. 7, 2022. Photo: Screengrab.

Following reports about a foreigner almost becoming a victim of theft in Kuta, a clip showing locals ‘sweeping’ the streets in the area for any sus individuals went viral over the weekend.

It all began when a video depicting a foreign male almost had his phone swiped while hanging out with his friends on Poppies Street in Kuta went viral last Friday.

In the beginning of the short clip, the person who recorded the video could be heard approaching two foreign men who were having a heated argument with several Indonesian men.

“Hey, bro, return the cell phone, bro,” the person behind the camera said.

He later asked a bearded foreign male wearing a white t-shirt about what happened, who said, “[this] fucking idiot tried to steal my fucking phone. It’s fucked up.”

His friend chimed in, “yeah, he tried to steal [the phone].”

While the person behind the camera was talking with the two foreigners, at least one of the Indonesian men was seen running away from the scene. 

Over the weekend, another video from Kuta went viral. This time, a group of locals were filmed conducting a vigilante-style crackdown on suspicious activities, which they called a “sweep,” on the streets around the Bali Bombing Memorial in Kuta. They accosted several men who they said were loitering and could not explain what they were doing at the location.

The men that were targeted in the sweep were reportedly independent ojek (motorbike taxi) drivers who are not affiliated with any rideshare apps.

People in Bali seem eager to stamp out any perception that crime is on the rise in Kuta and other parts of the island, especially as the island only recently began to wake up from a two-year economic dormancy due to the pandemic. 

In addition to theft, other crimes such as money changer scams have also been concerning for authorities.

When asked about the recent vigilante sweeps as shown in the video, Kuta Police Criminal Unit Chief Ketut Sudarma said that his department was aware about the viral clip and said that law enforcement is also patrolling the area.

“[The sweeping and police patrols] are synergized,” he said, adding, “We are also still hunting for criminals in Kuta.”

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