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Indonesia 2013 Crime and Safety Report: Jakarta

East Asia & Pacific > Indonesia > Jakarta

Overall Crime and Safety Situation 

Crime can be a problem in Indonesia, particularly in major urban centers like Jakarta and Surabaya. Crime, however, did not significantly affect the American community in 2012, perhaps due to continued elevated security awareness of many official and private U.S. citizens because of the on-going terrorism threat in Indonesia.  Many American businesses have active security briefing programs with security officers who are familiar with the latest criminal trends.  Considering the size of the official and private American communities (current Consular data show approximately 23,000 U.S. citizen residents in Indonesia) there were few reports of crimes against U.S. citizens in 2012.

Through several sources, the Regional Security Office has gathered data and statistics for Jakarta outlining criminal activities and trends.  Due to the reluctance of many expat and Indonesians to report criminal activity, these statistics should not be taken at face value, but as a reflection of the ongoing work the Indonesian National Police (INP) are doing to safeguard those in Indonesia.   Jakarta has a population of approximately 10,000,000 residents, including foreigners.  For 2012, there were reported 12,999 violent crimes: 132 murders; 85 rapes; 2,843 aggravated assaults; 8,526 burglaries; 1,630 thefts; and 7,340 vehicle thefts.  The general crime rates on a per capita basis must be taken into context as Indonesia’s crime rate is lower than similar crimes reported in many large, western hemisphere cities .

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 continues 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 such as Blue Bird, Silver Bird or Express 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.  Fortunately, Indonesian criminals are normally reluctant to use force and usually do not harm their victims unless confronted with violence.  

Credit card and debit card crimes continue to be a concern in Indonesia.  The bulk of this type of crime involves dishonest employees of smaller businesses, shops, and restaurants who will either copy down the details of the credit card/debit card or attempt to "swipe" it through a device called a "skimmer" enabling them to make fraudulent cards using valid credit card numbers.  The RSO recommends limiting credit card use to major hotel chains, high-end restaurants and well-known businesses.  Internet fraud is also on the rise, as it is in every other country in the world.

Additionally, organized crime is also a problem in Indonesia and less has been done to address this persistent problem.  Illegal logging and fishing, trafficking-in-persons, the sale of illicit and counterfeit drugs, and corruption are still major problems the Indonesians need to confront.  In many instances, the prosecution of individuals accused of these crimes is unsuccessful because of payoffs and bribes to corrupt government officials. Persons violating Indonesian laws, even unknowingly, may be expelled, arrested, or imprisoned.  Penalties for the possession, use, or trafficking in illegal drugs in Indonesia are severe. Convicted offenders can expect lengthy prison sentences and hefty fines.  The death sentence can be imposed in some cases of drug trafficking; and in January 2013, a British citizen was sentenced to death for drug smuggling.  The sex industry, including the commercial exploitation of children, is widespread throughout Indonesia and is a focus of international law enforcement efforts.  Engaging in sexual conduct with a minor or using or disseminating child pornography in a foreign country, including Indonesia, is a crime prosecutable in the United States.

Crime always increases before the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan.  This is due to the pressure of providing gifts for family members and obtaining money to return to their villages for the holiday Eid Al-Fitri, which is extremely important to the majority of Indonesians.

Throughout Jakarta specifically and Indonesia in general, there have been several incidents in which expatriates were victims of drink-spiking and robbed as unwilling victims by either females in hotel rooms, or their male companions while en route to a hotel.

Overall Road Safety Situation

Newcomers to Indonesia will find the traffic conditions here difficult to deal with because of extreme congestion, undisciplined drivers and the numerous motorcycles and mopeds. Additionally, the flow of traffic in Indonesia is on the left side of the road which adds to the initial frustration and confusion many first-time drivers in Indonesia will undoubtedly experience.   The number and variety of vehicles on the roads far exceeds the capacity of existing roadway infrastructure to adequately handle the traffic.  Road safety awareness is very low and many drivers, especially the motorcycle and moped drivers, disregard most traffic laws. Road conditions vary from good to dangerously poor.  The toll roads in Indonesia are modern, multi-lane, well-maintained and usually over-crowded. Most roads outside of the major cities are single-lane and overly congested with a variety of vehicles from 18-wheel trucks to small mopeds.  It is common for Indonesians to pass vehicles on either side of the road, or shoulder, while driving at a high rate of speed and swerving to avoid colliding with bicycles, and horse and ox carts.  Driving at night outside of major cities is strongly discouraged.

Because of the unique and dangerous driving conditions in Indonesia, the majority of Embassy employees, western expatriates, and affluent Indonesians hire personal drivers.  All rental car
companies offer drivers and the RSO strongly recommends that travelers unfamiliar with the driving conditions in Indonesia hire personal drivers.  Accidents on rented motorcycles constitute the majority of expatriate deaths in Indonesia - especially on the resort island of Bali.

When an accident involving personal injury occurs, Indonesian law requires both drivers to wait for the arrival of the police.  Accident victims in Indonesia need to be aware that local ambulance services are at best unreliable and should not be counted on to transport injured persons to hospitals.  As a result, taxis and private vehicles are usually used to transport auto accident victims to hospitals.  Although Indonesian law requires third party insurance, most Indonesian drivers are uninsured.  Even if they are insured, it is common for insurance companies to refuse to pay damages.  All drivers should keep in mind that motorcycles and mopeds have the right of way and the driver of the larger vehicle will be liable if there is an accident.

Political, Economic, Religious, and Ethnic Violence  

Local, Regional, and International Terrorism Threats and Concerns

It is a well-known fact that several members of the main terrorist organizations in Indonesia such as Jemaah Islamiyah (JI) and Jema'ah Ansharut Tauhid (JAT) trained at Al Qaeda bases in Afghanistan and Pakistan in the 1980's and 1990's.  Many of those individuals have been either imprisoned or killed, but the fact remains that JI, JAT, and other Indonesia-and-Philippines based terrorist groups continue to share the common goal of conducting terrorist attacks against Western interests consistent with Al Qaeda’s goals.

Regionally, terrorist cells and insurgents have targeted police stations and officers in 2012.  In October, two police officers were found assassinated and buried in shallow graves in Poso.  In November, there were various armed attacks on police stations and officers in Papua, including a bomb found in Pasar Kliwon Police Precinct, Surakarta.  Fortunately, many of these attacks failed due to INP intervention.

The central government established the National Counterterrorism Agency (BNPT) in 2010, a major step toward establishing a structure to manage the multifaceted needs of combating terrorism and its development.  The BNPT is responsible for coordinating all prevention, international programs, and counterterrorism operations.  The BNPT recently readjusted the structure of Detachment 88 (the elite counterterrorism unit of the INP) to more effectively combat the smaller and more dispersed terrorist cells.  The BNPT is also responsible for managing the nation’s counter- and de-radicalization programs, both of which are whole-of-government efforts. 

The successes of the INP over the last year to disrupt, arrest, and prosecute members of JI/JAT and splinter group affiliates have been significant.  In 2012, Umar Patek was tried and convicted for his role in the 2002 Bali Bombings and sentenced to twenty years in prison.  Although several members of JI/JAT with long and storied pasts remain active, the loss of such a large number of their leaders will have a serious impact on JI/JAT’s ability to successfully recruit, fund, and carry out large-scale operations.

Despite these successes, violent extremist networks and "sleeper" cells remain intact and have the capacity to become operational with little or no warning.  Furthermore, there are concerns over the eventual release of several terrorist leaders in both 2014 and 2015.  The bottom line is that a terrorist attack could occur at anytime, in spite of the impressive efforts of Indonesian authorities.  

Civil Unrest

Every day in Jakarta, and throughout Indonesia, there are multiple demonstrations.  Common areas for protest activity include both the Hotel Indonesia traffic circle and the U.S. Embassy.  While these demonstrations are usually peaceful and the INP presence is normally sufficient to maintain order, demonstrations have occasionally become violent, particularly when involving issues related to religion.  In the past, anti-American demonstrations at the Embassy have been sparked by U.S. foreign policy towards the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and other issues related to the Middle East, Iraq, and Afghanistan.    

From September through November 2012, significant protest activity occurred throughout the region following the release of “Innocence of Muslims,” a video that went viral and depicted extremely anti-Islamic sentiment.  

The RSO continues to recommend that all expatriates avoid protests if possible.

Religious or Ethnic Violence 

Indonesia is an enormous and populous country with 240 million inhabitants spread out over an archipelago of more than 17,000 islands.  Localized political violence and civil unrest due to ethnic, sectarian, religious and separatist reasons is a possibility. Religious and ethnic violence is common in Central Sulawesi.  Papua harbors a persistent separatist movement, which includes a small number of armed OPM guerillas who have attacked the INP and Indonesian Military (TNI) in the Puncak Jaya area of the Papuan highlands, and security forces continue to pursue separatist guerillas there.  In the area between Timika and the copper and gold mine of Grasberg in Papua, there have also been over 30 shooting incidents between 2009 and early 2012 by unknown gunmen who were targeting security personnel (INP and TNI), employees, and contractors of a U.S. multi-national mining company.  

Post-specific Concerns

Environmental Hazards

Indonesia is geographically located on the "ring of fire" and there are minor, and sometimes major, earthquakes somewhere in the archipelago every week.  In addition to the volcanic activity, there are earthquakes, tsunamis, and other natural disasters, including occasional flooding.  In 2011, the Government of Indonesia recorded more than 250 earthquakes measuring 5.0 on the Richter scale or higher across the country.  In September 2011, a 6.7 Richter scale earthquake struck Singkil Baru in Aceh. It caused three casualties and affected more than 1,500 buildings in the area.

In 2010, several Indonesian volcanoes erupted and caused major damage and disruption to the populace and to economic interests.  Mt. Merapi, the largest of these eruptions, resulted in 279,000 internally displaced persons, with 141 casualties and 453 injuries.  Indonesia has deployed an effective volcano monitoring system, which has enabled the Government of Indonesia to inform the population about potential eruptions and to direct evacuations that prevent casualties.  When Mt. Karangetang in Central Sulawesi erupted in March 2011, 1,200 residents were evacuated with no casualties.  

During the rainy season, which runs from December to March, floods and mudslides wreak havoc in many areas of Indonesia, including Jakarta.  In November 2012 alone, 40 natural disasters occurred, affecting approximately 33,000 people.  Floods were the most frequent, accounting for 60 percent of all natural disasters during the month and claimed 17 casualties.  Furthermore, as of January 2013, substantial flooding has already occurred in Jakarta due to heavy rains.

Industrial and Transportation Accidents 

Unfortunately, Indonesia does experience industrial and transportation accidents. Indonesia has had challenges with airlines and ferry services.  Indonesia experienced several fatal plane crashes and non-fatal runway overruns in 2011.   Additionally, several ferry accidents and a train collision resulted in dozens of fatalities and even more injuries, due to over-crowding and unsafe conditions.  Indonesia continues to hold a category 2 safety rating after the Federal Aviation Administration lowered the rating in March 2007. 

Economic Espionage/Intellectual Property Thefts 

Indonesia is currently on the Special 301 priority watch list for intellectual property rights (IPR) protection.  Indonesia’s failure to effectively protect intellectual property and enforce IPR laws has resulted in high levels of physical and online piracy.  The International Intellectual Property Alliance estimates that 87% of business software is unlicensed, while retail piracy rates are likely even higher.

Indonesia’s 2002 Copyright Law and 2001 Trademark Law are currently under review.  While not fully adequate, both laws provide a solid foundation for enforcement efforts.  Unfortunately, enforcement has been insufficient.  The Copyright Law requires commercial courts to try cases of alleged copyright violations and render judgments within 90 days, though it often takes much longer.  Even so, criminal cases against corporate end-user piracy in Jakarta and Semarang were successfully prosecuted in 2009.  The GOI has signed and ratified the WIPO internet treaties, but further clarifications in its Copyright Law must be made to fully implement both treaties.

Privacy Concerns

Privacy concerns in Indonesia are relatively low; however, one should always remain aware of one’s surroundings and remain vigilant when in country.  Varying one’s routes as well as being time and place unpredictable are recommended and can provide some protection from becoming a target of opportunity.  

Regional Travel Concerns and Restricted Travel Areas 

There are no areas of Jakarta or other major metropolitan areas in Indonesia that are officially off-limits to Embassy personnel.  However, there are areas of Jakarta and other major cities where the chances of becoming a victim of a crime are increased.  Block M in South Jakarta is notorious for bars and night clubs of dubious reputation with prostitutes, drugs, and criminals.  Westerners do frequent Block M, but those who do should remain extra vigilant and be cognizant of the fact that criminal activity in this area is higher than the rest of Jakarta.  The Ancol Port area and other areas in north Jakarta are also well-known for bars, night clubs, and a higher crime rate than in other areas of Jakarta.  There are similar areas in all the major metropolitan cities in Indonesia and visitors should exercise caution if they choose to visit them.  According to the Indonesian National Police, South Jakarta, an affluent area which also houses a large number of expatriates, international schools, and multiple multinational corporations, including US Embassy housing, has become an increasingly attractive target for criminals and has seen a sharp increase in criminal activity.  

Visitors should check the Consular Information Sheet before traveling to Aceh, Central Sulawesi, and Papua.  These areas have the potential for increased crime, civil disturbance and political violence due to ethnic, religious and separatist tensions.

Drug-related Crimes

Indonesian Customs, INP, and BNN stationed at the air and seaports of major cities such as Jakarta, Surabaya, Bali, and Medan continue to arrest drug couriers from many different nations.  Further investigation of many of these smuggling attempts has revealed that Indonesia has become a primary destination for drugs smuggling operations controlled by Iranian and West-African drug trafficking organizations. In addition to large volumes of methamphetamine, Indonesian law enforcement officials have seen an increase in heroin seizures and also have seized large volumes of synthetic drugs including ecstasy and ketamine.  The demand for illegal drugs in Indonesia, with a growing population in already-over-crowded cities, remains high. As a result, INP and BNN continue to coordinate with other foreign and domestic law enforcement agencies to stem the steady flow of illegal drugs into Indonesia. 

Kidnapping Threats

There were several cases of kidnapping in Jakarta which had little impact on the expatriate community.  These kidnappings were primarily cases involving Indonesians only and were typically financially motivated and the perpetrators were familiar with the victim's family. 

Police Response

Police in Indonesia have limited capabilities in responding to criminal acts and other emergencies.  They lack sufficient patrol vehicles to respond quickly on a consistent basis and corruption continues to be a problem throughout the police force.  Policemen routinely augment their meager salaries by accepting payments from motorists who violate traffic laws.  Police also sometimes charge victims to investigate crimes or to return recovered stolen property.  Their lack of motivation and limited investigative ability makes solving complex and complicated crimes challenging.  They are, however, improving thanks to programs offered by the USG International Criminal Investigative Training Assistance Program (ICITAP), the USG Anti-Terrorism Assistance Program (ATA), the Bangkok-based International Law Enforcement Academy (ILEA), and other police training programs sponsored by other countries.

How to Handle Incidents of Police Detention or Harassment

If a U.S. citizen is arrested, he/she should call the Embassy at 62-21-3435-9000 ext. 0 for the operator and ask for the duty officer.   He or she should remain calm and accept the assistance from and information provided by an Embassy Consular Officer who will visit the arrestee at the earliest possible opportunity.  In Jakarta and throughout Indonesia, U.S. citizens may call the police at 112 for emergencies, but the number is not reliable and is often busy.  The RSO recommends that visitors, especially those who are going to remain in Indonesia for an extended period of time, find out what the general cell phone and land-line phone numbers are for the police station nearest them in the event of an emergency.

Where to Turn to for Assistance if you Become a Victim of Crime 

Police assistance can be obtained by dialing, within Jakarta, 110 or 112, but please note that in most cases the person answering the call may have limited English-language abilities.  

Various Police/Security Agencies 

Indonesian National Police (INP/POLRI): The INP is headquartered in South Jakarta and handles day-to-day traffic operations, criminal investigations, and protection of vital property and personnel.

National Narcotics Board (Badan Narkotika Nasional/BNN): The BNN deals with nationwide narcotics issues and is currently commanded by a two star police general.  They are Indonesia’s equivalent to the Drug Enforcement Administration in the U.S.

National Counter-Terrorism Agency (Badan Nasional Penanggulangan Terorisme/BNPT): BNPT is a national level counter-terrorism agency under the Coordinating Ministry for Legal and Security Affairs.  They coordinate inter-agency efforts to eradicate terrorism.  They work closely with the INP’s Special Detachment 88 in their counter-terrorism efforts.

Medical Emergencies

Embassy employees and private U.S. citizens living in Indonesia normally travel to Singapore for treatment of serious medical conditions.  However, the following local hospitals may be contacted for routine medical care or in emergencies:

Contact Information for Recommended Local Hospitals and Clinics 

SOS International - 62-21-723-750-6001
Jalan Puri Sakti 10, Cipete, South Jakarta

Global Doctor - 62-21-723-1211
Jalan Pattimura 15, Kebayoran Baru, Jakarta

Pondok Indah Hospital - 62-21-750-2322 or 750-0157
Jalan Metro Duta 1, Pondok Indah, Jakarta

Recommended Air Ambulance Services

For air ambulance service, contact SOS International listed above.

CDC Country-Specific Vaccination and Health Guidance

U.S. Citizens traveling to Indonesia should check the CDC homepage for updates to required and recommended vaccinations, as well as general health guidance.

Tips on How to Avoid Becoming a Victim

Areas to be Avoided and Best Security Practices

Keep a low profile whenever possible
Be unpredictable
Remain vigilant
Vary routes and times
Do not advertise that you are an American. Avoid wearing t-shirts/hats with USA, FBI, etc.
Avoid large crowds
Avoid wearing flashy jewelry
Avoid drugs and prostitution
Do not carry large amounts of cash
Only carry credit cards you may need
Carry a photocopy of the bio page of your passport
Know the telephone number to the Embassy
When using a taxi, choose Blue Bird, Silver Bird, or Express 
Try to ensure the driver knows where you are going
Be suspicious of strangers approaching you
Notify someone if traveling outside of Jakarta
Hire a driver from a reputable company

For residential security best practices:
Employ a guard
Keep windows and doors locked
Rent houses with window grills and substantial doors
Train household staff to be aware of security issues
Invest in a residential alarm system
Household staff should not allow anyone in your residence without your permission

U.S. Embassy Location and Contact Information 

Embassy Address and Hours of Operation

U.S. Embassy Jakarta is located at Medan Merdeka Selatan 5, Jakarta 10110.  The most secure international mail address is: U.S. Embassy Jakarta, DPO, AP 96520 USA.  Hours of operation are Monday through Friday, from 7:30 a.m. until 4:00 p.m.  Closed on U.S. and Indonesian Holidays.

Embassy Contact Numbers

Switchboard: 62-21-3435-9000
Marine Post One: 62-21-3435-9221
Regional Security Officer: 62-21-3435-9012
Consular Section: 62-21-3435-9050
Medical Unit: 62-21-3435-9355
Political Section: 62-21-3435-9280
Economic Section: 62-21-3435-9072
Public Affairs Section: 62-21-3435-9500
Surabaya Consulate Switchboard: 62-31-295-6400
Surabaya Regional Security Officer: 62-31-295-6400 x2043
Medan Switchboard: 62-61-451-9000

OSAC Country Council Information

There is an active OSAC Country Council in Indonesia. The Chairperson is Brian Millen who can be reached at or 62-21-5730500.