Crime Information for Tourists in Indonesia

Crime can be a problem in some major metropolitan areas in Indonesia. Crimes of opportunity such as pick-pocketing and theft occur throughout the country. If you are in Jakarta and Surabaya, hire a taxi either at a major hotel or shopping center queue, or by calling or hailing a reputable taxi company, such as Silver Bird, Blue Bird or White Express. If you are arriving at Soekarno-Hatta International Airport in Jakarta, use only these taxis obtained at a designated taxi queue or clearly marked taxi stand. Politely decline all offers of help from touts or anyone who approaches you. Major hotels have staff on duty to offer safe meet-and-greet service at airports and can also direct their hotel guests to a reliable taxi. It is best to request meet and greet services from your hotel in advance. Add about 25,000 Rupiah to the metered fare for required airport taxes and toll road fees. Depending on traffic, a minimum metered fare is 150,000-200,000 Rupiah from Soekarno-Hatta airport to central Jakarta. Criminals in Jakarta regularly rob customers in taxis painted to look like taxis from reputable companies; booking taxis by telephone directly from the company or through hotels is the best way to avoid falling victim to this scam.

Armed car-jacking, theft of vehicles and non-violent residential break-ins do occur in Indonesia. Personal and "snatch-and-grab" robberies are the most common type of crime, and have occurred regularly, to include targeting expatriates and embassy personnel. There continue to be crimes committed against people taking disreputable and freelance taxis. These types of crimes usually involve the driver taking his passenger(s) - usually women - to a remote area where a group of armed men rob them of their jewelry, cell phones, money and any other items of value such as ATM cards and force the victim(s) to reveal his or her PIN codes so that the assailants could obtain cash. In a few instances, the criminals drove with the victim in the taxi to an ATM machine and forced them to withdraw cash. Visitors to Indonesia should use only reputable taxi companies and avoid public mass transit platforms such as buses and trains. Pick pocketing is another crime that both locals and visitors fall victim to, with most pick pocketing occurring in crowded areas such as the mass transit system or in restaurants/bars. Indonesian police have noted an upward trend in burglaries and armed robberies in Jakarta, an increase of 25 percent in 2010, particularly in wealthier areas where expatriates tend to live. The best defense is to proactively take personal responsibility for your own security: know the layout of your dwelling, have someone at home at all times, discuss security procedures with your family and household staff, and know your neighborhood.

Claiming to act in the name of religious or moral standards, certain extremist groups have, on occasion, attacked nightspots and places of entertainment. Most of these attacks have sought to destroy property rather than to injure individuals. International news events can sometimes trigger anti-American or anti-Western demonstrations.

Credit card fraud and theft is a serious and growing problem in Indonesia, particularly for Westerners. Travelers should minimize use of credit cards and instead use cash. If used, credit card numbers should be closely safeguarded at all times. Travelers should also avoid using credit cards for online transactions at Internet cafes and similar venues. Travelers who decide to use credit cards should monitor their credit card activity carefully and immediately report any unauthorized use to their financial institution. ATM cards have been skimmed and cloned, resulting in bank accounts being drained. If you choose to use an ATM, exercise the same level of caution you would in the United States when using unfamiliar ATM machines and monitor your statements closely. Selecting tour guides, hotels, and business partners based on their reputation, competence, and ability to help can be very useful when considering a stay in Indonesia.

Additionally, organized crime is also a problem in Indonesia including illegal logging and fishing, trafficking-in-persons, the sale of illicit and counterfeit drugs, and corruption. You are encouraged to carry a copy of your U.S. passport with you at all times so that if questioned by local officials, proof of identity and proof of U.S. citizenship are readily available. If you are arrested or detained, formal notification of the arrest is normally provided in writing to the U.S. Embassy in Jakarta, a process that can take several weeks. If detained, telephone the U.S. Embassy in Jakarta, or the nearest U.S. consular office immediately.

Drink poisoning and "drink-spiking incidents have been of increasing concern. There have been several reports of foreign tourists and Indonesians suffering from methanol poisoning from adulterated liquor or cocktails, most recently in Bali and Lombok. This has led to serious illness and, in some cases, death. There have also been reports of methanol poisoning from drinking adulterated Arak/Arrack, a local rice or palm liquor. The symptoms of methanol poisoning include headache, dizziness, nausea, and lack of coordination. Symptoms that can occur from 10 to up to 30 hours after initial consumption of methanol include, blurring or complete loss of vision.

There have been many reports of “drink-spiking” in clubs and nightspots. One drug used in these incidents is believed to be an animal tranquilizer, and its effects are extremely powerful. Besides putting the victim in an unconscious state for a long time, the side effects include memory loss, nausea, headaches, and vomiting. Although most of these incidents involve male victims, it is important to remember that females have been victimized in the past with "Date-Rape" drugs. Local, "home brew" alcoholic drinks may also be spiked.

Some ways to avoid “drink-spiking” and drink poisoning include: go out with a group; do not leave drinks unattended; drink at reputable establishments licensed to serve alcohol; do not drink home-brewed alcoholic drinks; be aware that labels on bottles may have been altered or the contents may have been changed; and drink responsibly, in moderation. Even though alcohol is widely available, public inebriation is highly frowned upon.

If you or someone you are traveling with exhibit signs of methanol poisoning or drink spiking, seek immediate medical attention. Maritime piracy in Indonesian waters continues, although incidents have decreased steadily in recent years. The most recent reports are of thefts of valuables or cargo from boats that are in port and not at sea. Before traveling by sea, especially in the Straits of Malacca between the Riau Province and Singapore and in the waters north of Sulawesi and Kalimantan, travelers are recommended to review the current security situation with local authorities.

While counterfeit and pirated goods are widely available in Indonesia, if you purchase them you may be breaking local law. Travelers are reminded thatpenalties may apply if bootleg items are brought into the United States.

Disclaimer

You are responsible for ensuring that you meet and comply with foreign entry requirements, health requirements and that you possess the appropriate travel documents. Information provided is subject to change without notice. One should confirm content prior to traveling from other reliable sources. Information published on this website may contain errors. You travel at your own risk and no warranties or guarantees are provided by us.

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