What can police (and other agencies, groups, and individuals) do to stomp out crime in Bali? What are real solutions? Realistically, the police cannot be present and alert on every road in the Ubud, Kuta, Legian, Seminyak, Kerobokan and Canggu areas 24/7. It’s simply not possible. So what are we concerned individuals expecting? What can we request? What can we do to support a safer Bali?
1. NO TARGETS, NO PREDATORS. If a widespread, massive, public information campaign can result in a ZERO target situation, criminals will seek easier pickings elsewhere, and leave Bali alone. If there are zero persons on motorbikes with bags, zero persons riding alone at night through quiet or possibly quiet streets, zero persons carrying anything of value in an accessible way, criminals will not prosper from their actions, and taking up the bag-snatching “profession” will be avoided as unfruitful.
2. REPORTING AND PROSECUTION OF PERPETRATORS. All incidents, or attempted crimes/suspicious activity must be reported formally to the police, and also entered into the new databases online (Ubud group, and the other Bali crime reports group). Reporting should be done at POLDA Bali (the main police headquarters in Denpasar, rather than at your local police office, Polsek or Polres). The coordination of information, efficiency of service, and professionalism at POLDA is far superior to local police offices. All crimes or criminal activities that take place in Bali can be reported directly to POLDA. Their call centre operates 24/7 and English language abilities are quite good. The one-stop public service centre there, on the ground floor, southeast side of the main building, is modern, comfortable, well staffed, and totally ready to help you report criminal or suspicious activity. Reports made there do not involve “playing games” or “crime report fees” of any kind. You can go alone, or better yet, bring an Indonesian friend who can help with any incidental language/communication barriers. You do not need a lawyer. You do not need a local police officer. You can report anything there at any time, and will receive non-discriminatory, rapid, efficient service. Gosh, their waiting room even has a really good TV, comfortable chairs, air conditioning, wifi, free drinks and sometimes snacks, female police officers in case the matter of the incident is sensitive . . . the facility is like the business class special check-in lounge of an international airline. POLDA is where you should report anything, if at all possible. Your report will link direct into the central province-level (Bali) police crime system, and into the national crime data and response centre. Skip the local police outposts. Go to POLDA. Even if local police attend the crime scene, insist on taking it direct to POLDA.
3. REPORT ALL CRIMINAL OR SUSPICIOUS INCIDENTS TO YOUR CONSULATE AND EMBASSY. They may not be in a position to provide interventions or special treatment, but they will record, report, and take appropriate action through formal and informal channels as a result of your communications with them.
4. BE OPEN WITH THE MEDIA. Any dramatic, alarming, suspicious, or tragic incident is of interest to your local, hometown media. Contact them. Tell your story. Call. Email. Write a letter to the editor. Again, do not get melodramatic, just explain succinctly what happened, and why you are concerned, and what you think locals from your hometown need to be aware of to avoid any misfortunes should they travel to Bali. Additionally, write a letter to the editor of The Jakarta Post, and The Jakarta Globe, explaining the distressing situation. They don’t actually get many cogent letters to print, and the likelihood that yours will be printed is quite significant. Letters to the editors can be transmitted via their websites, via email, or on paper.
5. SEND A SYNOPSIS OF YOUR EXPERIENCES / OBSERVATIONS TO THE AGENCIES IN INDONESIA THAT REALLY CARE, BECAUSE IT’S THEIR JOB TO CARE: KAPOLRI, KAPOLDA Bali, Mari Elka Pangestu (Minister of Tourism and Creative Economy), and KOMPOLNAS (the watchdog agency that’s above all police in Indonesia). It’s very easy to produce a proper letter with enclosures to these people. There’s a plethora of online translation and letter-preparation agencies who can translate and prepare your letter, and put it in the correct Indonesian formal format. Google to find some, then email two or three, tell them what you’d like to have translated and formatted according to Indonesian norms and official etiquette, and choose the translation agent that seems best for you. The cost of preparing a letter like this, with enclosures, in Indonesian is only $20 to $50, typically. And the online translation and letter-preparation agencies are very fast, and can usually turn around a request in one or two days at the most. They typically accept PayPal, bank transfer, and credit card payments, so it’s very, very easy now to communicate properly, in Indonesian, with agencies and officials here. Do it.
6. CONTACT THE SPECIAL POLICE FORCES FOR TOURISM (PAM OBVIT), and simply convey your experiences/observations. They are trained and funded not only by the Indonesian Government, but also by the relevant agencies in the USA, Australia, and New Zealand. OBVIT is an acronym for “Obyek Vital”, meaning a place or industry that is vital to Indonesia. Following the Bali Bomb, tourism and the safety and wellbeing of foreigners in Bali was declared an OBVIT (joining the ranks of other OBVIT like oil platforms, military installations, airports, and gold mines). The PAM OBVIT in Bali have really significant capabilities, and (sadly) they are not as well known as they would wish to be. A great friend of foreigners in Bali, who is a senior official in PAM OBVIT Bali is Major Fahmi. His contact details are all over these Bali crime pages. Pak Fahmi does want to know, and he is always ready to sit down with you personally, absorb the facts and data, and take appropriate actions with a variety of agencies of law enforcement, public safety, and criminal justice. You may never know what Pak Fahmi has done or said, and you don’t need to. You can simply rest assured that if you tell him the truth, share real, solid information, and express your honest concerns and disappointments, communications and action at all appropriate levels will take place, and you’ll be better off for it. Funding for PAM OBVIT comes not only from domestic budgets in Indonesia, but also from overseas.
7. SPREAD THE WORD. Smart crime prevention tips for visitors and foreign residents in Bali, if they are published, posted, shared, and disseminated everywhere . . . every cafe, restaurant, tea room, ashram, yoga center, hotel, bar, restaurant, nightclub, villa, hotel, boutique, fitness centre, warung, bike renter, car renter, visa consultancy, tour bus, spa, laundry, salon, dive centre, fast boat, language school, museum, gallery, and supermarket . . . will cut crime off dead in its tracks. No rewards for criminals means no criminals. If they don’t get anything for their risks and efforts, by nature, they will shift operations to more fruitful fields. And they probably will not come back again for a very, very long time, if at all. Make Bali crime-impermeable.
8. SAFETY AT YOUR HOME / HOTEL / VILLA. Never let valuables be visible. Never leave a door or window unlocked. If your accommodation doesn’t have door and window locks that seem genuinely secure, move. Don’t even let the staff and security guards get an idea of what valuable stuff you’ve got. Keep it to yourself. Wearing expensive jewelry and watches in Bali doesn’t grant you any social status anyway, so don’t bring it here in the first place. And if you live here and have that kind of stuff, store it in a bank safety deposit box, not at home. Should you experience an intrusion at home, play dead. Make like you’re sleeping like a log. Who cares if they make off with your iPod or even your passport. Those can be replaced. Your skull, your soft tissues, your internal organs, and your life, cannot. Let the theft happen, then report to POLDA immediately afterwards.
9. DO YOUR PART TO STOP CRIME IN ITS TRACKS BEFORE IT STEPS ON BALI RESIDENTS AND GUESTS: For residents, long-term renters, and accommodation owner/operators/managers. CCTV is ok, but if someone is injured or theft occurs, the images don’t do much to fix that. Normal alarm systems, like people have in European and American urban and suburban areas are better. They are not expensive. Many can be installed yourself, or with the help of a competent handyman. They can be purchased online, or in Indonesia, or elsewhere in sets that suit your home situation. The safety comes from sensors on doors and windows, and (as needed) motion sensors. The sensors are linked to a central control panel, which (depending on the option you choose) sets off piercing sirens, masses of giant spotlights around the property, and phones/contacts owners, managers, police, or whoever you program it to contact. These systems are based on PERIMETER control. To effectively guard a typical Bali villa compound is almost impossible. To secure the perimeters of buildings, rooms, spaces, is not difficult at all. So some guys get over your wall while your security is asleep or sitting around elsewhere. Big deal. Are they going to steal your orchids or your pool toys? Who cares? However, if they attempt to breach the perimeter of your home itself, pavilions, buildings, rooms . . . the minute they try to jimmy a door or pry a window, the whole alarm barrage goes off instantaneously. They are not going to hang around, and you will never need to see them or confront them. They’ll flee like scared rabbits, and with all the hullaballoo (and calls to various places), a herd of angry pursuers will get after them quite quickly.
10. DOGS. Why do the Balinese keep these wacky, wonky dogs around? They’re an alarm system. If anything out of the ordinary starts to happen, the sharp, distinctive “trouble” barks of your one, two, three or more Bali dogs alerts everyone within 300 meters. Specialist, pure-bred attack/security dogs are all well and good. But multiple Bali dogs are better adapted to the climate and conditions here, more resilient to dog afflictions that arise in the tropics, require minimal special care, and if you have more than one, the “poison meat thrown over the wall” tactic is far, far, less likely to succeed. My observations suggest that female Bali dogs are the best alarm dogs. Sterilize them, or you’ll be causing yourself and Bali almost as many problems as you prevent. Those bitches are barkers, big time. But they don’t bite. They’re faithful, they don’t wander, and they guard their home turf, and the source of their dog chow, with intense vigilance. They don’t seem to sleep at all. It’s as if one ear, one eye, and one nostril are on high alert 24/7 even when they seem sound asleep. They won’t subdue a criminal, but they’ll let you and everyone else know loudly, that something’s not right, before the imminent threat even gets close to causing harm or loss of property. Bravo for Bali dogs. Adopt a few.