Crimes such as robbery targeting minimarkets, scamming, and dissemination of false news have increased since the capital of Indonesia imposed large-scale social distancing or pembatasan sosial berskala besar (PSBB) on 10 April to mitigate the spread of novel coronavirus (COVID-19), Jakarta regional police said.
Head of Public Relations at the Jakarta Regional Police Commissioner Yusri Yunus said at a press conference on Saturday (18 April) that robbers had switched their targets to minimarkets due to the government’s call for the public to stay at home.
Yunus added that his side is still tracking down three members of minimarket robbery syndicate, who have been operating since February until the implementation of PSBB in Jakarta.
Emptier streets trigger motorcycle theft
The city government’s stay-at-home order has not deterred criminals from doing their action.
A TV footage on Sunday (19 April) showed two robbers secretly taking motorcycles in a housing complex in Bekasi, West Java.
Last week, Yunus stated that his side had nabbed a gang of motorbike thieves that has stolen 60 times, Tempo reported Thursday (16 April).
Yunus snubbed the link between robbery during the PSBB enforcement and the release of inmates to curb the COVID-19 spread.
Hasto Atmojo Suroyo, a criminologist at the University of Indonesia, told Harian Terbit that it was too early to link the rise in crime rates in Jakarta to the social distancing policy, as the crime rate in the capital had been high even before the PSBB was enforced.
Indonesia’s Ministry of Law and Human Rights decided to release 36,554 inmates to prevent the infection of COVID-19 among inmates due to Indonesia’s prisoner overcapacity.
Misleading information on the crime is also flooding social media
Dissemination of false news on crime has also been flooding social media and chat messaging platforms such as WhatsApp amid the implementation of PSBB.
A broadcast message widely received last Sunday (19 April) claimed that a woman was robbed at a supermarket in Pondok Indah, an elite neighbourhood in Jakarta.
The woman was approached by two men armed with knives, the message read. The robbers allegedly took her iPhone and money worth Rp 1,500,000 (S$137.42).
The South Jakarta Police Resort, however, later confirmed the information to be a hoax, adding there had been no robbery in the area.