Recent news stories on violent groups that brutally attack victims on the street has unsettled the public. Increasing insecurity has caused some locals to see the lynching of these thugs in a positive light.
For the past few months, media outlets have reported a number of violent attacks against motorcyclists who suffered serious injuries and even death while their motorcycles were being stolen.
The gang members usually brandished sharp weapons and did not hesitate to use them.
Jakarta Police statistics show that violent theft reached 904 cases last year.
An anonymous message to warn road users to be careful in certain areas in Jakarta has also been circulating widely among users of smartphone messengers like Blackberry Messenger and Whatsapp over the past two weeks.
On Jan. 25, a motorcyclist was found dead with multiple stab wounds on Jl. Margonda Raya in Depok, West Java. Beji Police detective head Adj. Comr. Syah Johan said the victim had been riding his motorcycle alone when four people on two motorcycles approached him and tried to take his motorcycle.
Earlier on Jan 10, a police officer was shot to death in Klapanunggal subdistrict, Bogor, West Java, by two men after he tried to catch the men, who were allegedly involved in a string of vehicle thefts in Bogor.
On Tuesday, locals caught one of four gang members in Pondok Aren, South Tangerang in Banten, and burned him alive.
The locals beat, kicked and stripped the young man of his clothes before dousing him with a bottle of gasoline. When the fire was about to die, they poured more gasoline and threw a car tire on him to prolong the flames.
Locals who witnessed the event seemed to find the action brutal, but necessary.
Dila, a local resident who witnessed the incident, said Wednesday that it was not the first time a motorcycle thief was killed by the local people, since a few years ago a robber was beaten to death nearby.
"Criminals must be aware that they could be beaten to death if they try to steal in this area," she said on Wednesday.
Several other locals also said on Tuesday that killing the robber was necessary to create a deterrent effect. One of them, Yudi, said that imprisonment would be useless because the criminals would just steal again.
Criminology expert from the University of Indonesia, Mohammad Irvan Olii, said the incident was caused by local residents' accumulated hatred and resentment toward violent robbers that finally burst out.
"The news spread very fast through media and social media. A number of news stories about robberies that circulated in the media have caused anger and led to that specific incident," Olii told The Jakarta Post on Wednesday.
"When they burned the alleged thief, they were consumed with anger and they might have been thinking that maybe, just maybe, the police would release the thief," Olii said.
Jakarta Police spokesperson Sr. Comr. Martinus Sitompul said on Wednesday that the circulating message about areas prone to violent robberies was not from the police and it contained some inaccurate information. He suggested that the public not spread the message.
He added that the Jakarta Police had deployed three special teams to handle violent robbery in the capital and promised that there would be more officers to keep an eye out.
"We have identified six gangs. We will track them down and annihilate them," he said.
Recent lynching cases
● Feb. 9, 2015
Two thieves are beaten up by dozens of residents in Sisingamangaraja, Medan. One dies in the North Sumatra Police Bhayangkara Hospital.
● Sept. 19, 2014
Another motorcycle thief meets a gruesome end at the hands of angry local residents in Bekasi, West Java.
● Sept. 15, 2014
A motorcycle thief is beaten to death in West Cikarang, Bekasi, West Java after local residents catch him trying to steal a motorcycle.
● Sept. 15, 2014
Muslim Ridwan, 21, a Papua State University student, is shot and killed in Warnyeti village, Tanahrubuh district, South Manokwari regency, Papua, due to rumours that he ran over a child with his motorcycle.
● Aug. 29, 2014
Henky Hermansyah is reportedly burned alive by local residents in Bogor, West Java after being caught attempting to steal a motorcycle. He is also reportedly carrying a firearm during the attempted theft and fires shots into a group of people as he is pursued.
● Jan. 9, 2014
Two people are beaten by an angry mob after they are caught trying to steal a motorcycle in Kebagusan, South Jakarta. One dies, another suffers serious head injuries.