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Indonesia 2017 Crime & Safety Report: Surabaya

East Asia & Pacific > Indonesia; East Asia & Pacific > Indonesia > Surabaya

Overall Crime and Safety Situation

U.S. Consulate Surabaya does not assume responsibility for the professional ability or integrity of the persons or firms appearing in this report. The ACS Unit cannot recommend a particular individual or establishment and assumes no responsibility for the quality of services provided.


Please review OSAC’s Indonesia-specific page for proprietary analytic reports, Consular Messages, and contact information 

U.S. Consulate General Surabaya serves a Consular District consisting of 12 provinces: East Java; Bali; West and East Nusa Tenggara; North and South Ambon; and the provinces of North, Central, West, South and Southeast Sulawesi, which together with Gorontalo make up the island of Sulawesi.

The total population of the district is approximately 75 million, out of a nationwide population of over 250 million. Surabaya, the capital of East Java and a major industrial and port city with a population of approximately three million, is the second largest city in Indonesia. Including the neighboring cities and regencies of Gresik, Sidoarjo, Mojokerto and Pasuruan, Surabaya’s extended metropolitan area has a population of over nine million. Bali, an island province located just east of Java with a population of over four million, is the largest destination for American visitors in Indonesia, with over 150,000 arriving in 2016. Consulate Surabaya estimates that around 12,000 U.S. citizen residents and visitors are present in the consular district at any one time.

Crime Threats

Crime threats and patterns vary across the consular district, which includes both crowded urban environments and remote, sparsely populated areas. Although there have been incidents involving more serious crimes, reports of violent crimes involving U.S. citizens are relatively uncommon, and the impact of crime on the foreign expatriate and visitor community has been relatively limited. In many cases, the crime threat can be mitigated by good personal security and situational awareness practices.

Motorcycle/moped thefts are commonly reported in Surabaya. Strong-arm robbery and muggings, including of foreign nationals, though rare, have been reported in Surabaya. Drive-by purse snatchings, usually perpetrated by two males on a motorbike, have been reported in Surabaya and Bali. In Lombok, foreign visitors including U.S. citizens have been the victims of armed robbery, especially in rural areas in the southern part of the island.

Foreign visitors have been the victims of aggravated assaults. Many criminal incidents reported to the Consulate involve nightclubs in the area of Kuta, Legian, and Seminyak in Bali. Disputes at nightclubs have escalated to physical assaults, sometimes resulting in serious injury. Persons leaving nightclubs have been the victims of opportunistic violent crimes including sexual assault. Visitors should practice good personal security, travel with friends if possible, and avoid situations where they are vulnerable to criminal exploitation or victimization.

Foreign visitors have been the victims of serious sexual assaults in Indonesia, including in Bali. Victims should seek immediate medical assistance. Sexual assaults in the form of groping attacks by strangers have been reported by female U.S. citizens from locations across Indonesia including East Java Province. The attackers have been on foot or on motorbikes and a few of the attacks have resulted in injuries. Foreign visitors, especially females, should exercise caution when running or jogging in public or along roads and carefully evaluate the safety and security of the surrounding environment.

Crimes that take place in inhabited areas and are witnessed by bystanders may elicit a vigilante response, and a mob can form quickly. In a recent incident in Bali, bystanders who witnessed a purse snatching by two males apprehended the suspected perpetrators and beat them severely, resulting in the death of one of them. Foreign visitors should be aware that this crowd dynamic can also occur after traffic accidents or personal disputes in public and has the potential to escalate to violence.

Pickpocketing affects both local residents and visitors, with most occurring in crowded areas (buses and train stations, markets, busy sidewalks, pedestrian bridges). Do not leave luggage or personal items unattended in public areas.

"Drink-spiking” and drink poisoning incidents are a concern, especially in tourist areas (Bali, Lombok). There have been reports of foreign tourists and Indonesians suffering methanol poisoning from adulterated liquor or cocktails, including a local liquor called arak, leading to serious illness and, in some cases, death. For more information, please review OSAC’s Report “Shaken: The Don’ts of Alcohol Abroad.” If you or someone you are traveling with exhibits signs of methanol poisoning, seek immediate medical attention. There have been reports of foreigners targeted by drink-spiking incidents in clubs and nightspots, including with so-called “date rape” drugs, in order to facilitate crimes including robbery and sexual assault.

Credit/debit card fraud is a serious, growing problem in Indonesia. Travelers should use discretion in where and how they use their credit cards and consider using cash for smaller transactions or outside major hotels and retail establishments. Safeguard credit/debit card numbers. Avoid using credit cards for online transactions at Internet cafes and similar public venues. Monitor your credit card activity and immediately report any unauthorized use to your financial institution. Criminals have “skimmed” and “cloned” ATM cards and then used the stolen account information to drain bank accounts. If you use an ATM, choose one located in a secure location (a bank) and check the machine for evidence of tampering. Be cautious when using unfamiliar ATMs, and monitor your account statements closely. Foreign nationals have been arrested in Bali for operating skimming operations to steal credit card numbers. U.S. citizens in Surabaya have become the victims of credit card fraud. The Regional Security Office recommends limiting credit card use to major hotel chains, high-end restaurants, and well-known businesses.

Organized crime groups are involved in illegal logging/fishing, human trafficking, trafficking/sale of illicit/counterfeit drugs, and other criminal activity. Systemic corruption often impedes effective law enforcement and prosecution of individuals accused of such crimes.

Employ a guard at your residence if possible. Keep windows/doors locked. Invest in a residential alarm system. Rent houses with window grilles and substantial doors. Train household staff to be aware of security issues. Household staff should not allow anyone in without your permission.

Visitors should note that crime reports increase before the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan. This is reportedly due, in part, to the pressure of providing gifts for family members and obtaining money for the Idul Fitri holiday, which is very important to most Indonesians.

Cybersecurity Issues

Internet fraud is on the rise as use of the Internet continues to grow. Hoax news stories are an increasing problem throughout Indonesia, the spread of which is exacerbated by the growing popularity and widespread use of social media platforms.

Areas of Concern

As of January 2017, the U.S. Embassy travel restriction for U.S. government personnel for all of Central Sulawesi continues. Visitors should check the Country Specific Information for Indonesia before traveling to Central Sulawesi because of the potential for increased crime, civil disturbance, and political violence due to ethnic, religious, and separatist tensions.

Lombok in West Nusa Tenggara province has seen a significant increase in tourism and development in recent years.

  • A violent criminal assault against two U.S. citizens near Selong Belanak in southern Lombok was the subject of a Security Message on December 14, 2015. Similar incidents involving other foreigners and Indonesians have been reported in the same area.

  • On December 31, 2015, U.S. Embassy Jakarta issued an Emergency Message informing U.S. citizens of potential security threats at popular tourist beaches on Lombok during New Year’s celebrations.

Sumbawa in West Nusa Tenggara province continues to experience issues with a violent, anti-government Islamic extremist movement centered in the areas of Bima and Dompu. Visitors should evaluate local conditions carefully and review security information prior to travel.

Transportation-Safety Situation 

Road Safety and Road Conditions

Road conditions vary from good to dangerously poor. Visitors will find traffic conditions extremely difficult due to massive congestion, undisciplined drivers, and numerous motorcycles/mopeds. Additionally, traffic flows on the left side of the road. The number of vehicles, estimated to increase by 10% per year, far exceeds the capacity of roadway infrastructure. Road safety awareness is very low, and many drivers, especially those on motorcycles/mopeds, disregard most traffic laws. Accidents on rented motorcycles constitute the majority of expatriate deaths in Indonesia, especially on Bali.

Toll roads are modern, multi-lane, and well-maintained but are 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 mopeds). It is common for vehicles to pass on either side of the road or on the shoulder, while driving at a high rate of speed and swerving to avoid colliding with bicycles or horse/ox carts. Driving at night outside of major cities is strongly discouraged.

Because of the unique and dangerous driving conditions, the majority of Embassy employees, Western expatriates, and affluent Indonesians hire personal drivers. Rental car companies offer drivers, and RSO strongly recommends that travelers consider hiring personal drivers from a reputable company.

If an accident involving personal injury occurs, Indonesian law requires both drivers to wait for the arrival of the police. Although Indonesian law requires third-party insurance, most drivers are uninsured. Even if they are insured, it is common for insurance companies to refuse to pay damages. The driver of the larger vehicle will likely be held liable in an accident.

Public Transportation Conditions

Visitors should exercise caution and avoid urban mass transit platforms (buses, trains) when possible. Inter-city rail service has been reported to be generally reliable and safe, although service and conditions may vary from standards in developed countries.

Visitors are advised to use reputable registered taxi companies like the Bluebird Group (including Blue Bird Taxi and Golden Bird car service), which vet their drivers and have been responsive to U.S. Consulate General inquiries and requests. Scams by taxi cab drivers have been reported. Make sure cab drivers use their meters, and make note of cab numbers and driver information. If using a car service that is not equipped with a meter, be sure to agree on the price prior to entering the car. Never enter a taxi that has other passengers in it. Never allow your taxi to stop to pick up additional passengers.

Aviation/Airport Conditions

A number of airlines provide service to Surabaya Juanda International Airport (SUB) ranging from international carriers to discount regional providers. Ngurah Rai International Airport (DPS) in Denpasar, Bali, is a hub with both international and domestic service. Smaller regional cities also have air service. Depending on the routes, delays or sudden flight cancellations are not uncommon. As an island nation that relies heavily on air transport and with varying conditions depending on the location, Indonesia has experienced frequent transportation accidents, including plane crashes. However, in 2016, Indonesia received a Category 1 rating from the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration, following compliance by the country’s civil aviation authority with International Civil Aviation Office (ICAO) standards.

Other Travel Conditions

In 2016, there were serious accidents involving inter-island ferries, several of which resulted in deaths and injuries. Overcrowding is common, regulation lax, safety equipment often missing, and adherence to safety standards often minimal.

Terrorism Threat 


Local, Regional, and International Terrorism Threats/Concerns

Several members of terrorist organizations -- Jemaah Islamiyah (JI), Jema'ah Ansharut Tauhid (JAT) -- trained at al-Qa’ida bases in Afghanistan and Pakistan in the 1980s and 1990s. Many of those individuals have been killed or imprisoned, but JI, JAT, and other pro-ISIS terrorist groups and sympathetic lone wolf individuals continue to aspire to commit attacks, especially against Indonesian police and security forces, Indonesian government facilities, and/or Western interests.

Throughout 2016, law enforcement officials pursued terrorist cells aggressively and successfully, disrupting multiple aspirational plots. Indonesia cooperated on a wide range of counterterrorism efforts with local and international partners, including the U.S.

Indonesia experienced a number of attacks attributed to the influence of ISIS in 2016:

  • On November 13, a toddler was killed, and three other children were wounded when an attacker threw Molotov cocktails at a church in Samarinda (East Kalimantan).

  • On October 20, an individual stabbed three policemen with a knife at a traffic police post in Tangerang (West Java) before being shot by authorities.

  • On August 27, a 17-year old male attacked a church in Medan (North Sumatra) using crude pipe bombs and a knife. The bombs failed to detonate, but when one device under his shirt began burning the attacker, he rushed the altar, stabbing the priest in the arm before parishioners could detain him.

  • On July 5 (the last day of Ramadan), an individual conducted a failed suicide bombing against a police station in Solo (East Java). The motorcycle-borne attacker killed himself and injured a police officer.

  • On January 14, eight people – including four militants – were killed in a terrorist attack at a densely populated shopping area in downtown Jakarta. The incident marked the first attack in the capital since 2009. Incarcerated extremist ideologue Aman Abdurahman is believed to have masterminded the attack with assistance from incarcerated 2004 Australian Embassy bomber Rois and Syria-based Indonesian foreign fighter Abu Jandal.

The Indonesian government established the National Counterterrorism Agency (BNPT) in 2010 that represented a major step toward enhancing law enforcement efforts and countering violent extremism. BNPT is responsible for coordinating prevention efforts, international programs, and counterterrorism operations. BNPT readjusted the structure of Detachment 88 (the INP’s elite counterterrorism unit) to combat smaller, more dispersed terrorist cells. It also manages the nation’s counter- and de-radicalization programs, both of which are whole-of-government efforts.

Violent extremist networks and terrorist cells remain intact and have the capacity to become operational and conduct attacks with little/no warning. The same is true of “lone wolf” or individually inspired ISIS sympathizers. INP has limited resources to monitor extremists, a challenge that will grow as terrorists are released from prisons and as fighters/family members return from Iraq and Syria. 

In June 2016, INP arrested several members of a terrorist cell in Surabaya. The cell, reportedly inspired by Syria-based Indonesian ISIS member Bahrun Naim, was allegedly planning attacks in the city.

Bali experienced significant terrorist attacks in 2002 and 2005. The October 2, 2002, bombings at two nightclubs in the tourist area of Kuta killed 202 people, including seven American citizens. Terrorist groups targeting Western interests continue to aspire to carry out attacks in Bali and other areas of Indonesia, including Lombok, that are popular tourist and holiday destinations for foreigners. Extremists have the ability to carry out small-scale violent attacks. Extremists may target official or private establishments, including hotels, bars, nightclubs, shopping malls and markets, restaurants, and places of worship. Be aware of your personal safety and security. Monitor local news reports, vary your routes/times, and maintain a low profile. Be sure to consider the security and safety preparedness of locations that you frequent.

Anti-American/Anti-Western Sentiment

In 2016, U.S. Consulate General Surabaya experienced one non-violent protest against U.S. support for Israel; this has been an annual event on Al-Quds Day, held on the last Friday of Ramadan. Anti-American demonstrations have been sparked by U.S. foreign policy decisions in the Middle East or labor disputes involving U.S. companies in Indonesia. There are isolated pockets of anti-Western sentiment throughout Indonesia.

Political, Economic, Religious, and Ethnic Violence


Civil Unrest

Demonstrations are common throughout Indonesia, including in Surabaya. They are usually peaceful, and the police presence is generally sufficient to maintain order. However, some demonstrations have become violent, particularly when involving issues related to religion, labor, or land rights. Visitors are advised to avoid all demonstrations since even those intended to be peaceful can become violent with little or no advance notice.

Large-scale demonstrations in Jakarta related to blasphemy charges against the Governor of Jakarta (who is ethnically Chinese and Christian) in November and December 2016 were accompanied by smaller simultaneous demonstrations in several cities throughout Indonesia. Although there were incidents of looting, arson, and related criminal activity in Jakarta after the November 4 demonstration, there were no similar incidents in Surabaya, which experienced a peaceful demonstration by approximately 5,000 people. Because of the history of anti-Chinese sentiment and political violence in Indonesia, concerns continue regarding the potential for demonstrations related to this ongoing controversy or similar issues to spark violent acts.

Surabaya experiences occasional incidents of violence and hooliganism related to soccer matches. In particular, this includes supporters of the Persebaya Surabaya soccer club, whose supporters are known as Bonek (from Bondo Nekat, “reckless people”)

Religious/Ethnic Violence

Localized political violence and civil unrest due to ethnic, sectarian, religious, and separatist reasons are also a possibility. In Surabaya and other cities with sizeable ethnic Chinese populations, there are occasional incidents and concerns related to latent anti-Chinese sentiment, sometimes linked to the belief that Chinese nationals are entering Indonesia and taking jobs from citizens. Central Sulawesi, North and South Maluku; Lombok and Sumbawa in West Nusa Tenggara Province; and West Timor in East Nusa Tenggara Province have also experienced episodic civil unrest and political violence due to ethnic, religious, and cultural reasons.

Post-specific Concerns

Environmental Hazards

Indonesia is located on the "ring of fire" and contains the most volcanoes of any country in the world; 76 of them are believed to be active. Significant volcanic activity occurs on Java, Sumatra, the Sunda Islands, Halmahera Island, Sulawesi Island, Sangihe Island, and in the Banda Sea. Indonesia has deployed an effective volcano monitoring system, which has enabled the government to inform the population about potential eruptions and to direct evacuations to prevent casualties. Recent major eruptions include the eruption of Mount Rinjani (Lombok Island east of Bali) in September 2016 that caused ash to reach 2,000 meters and disrupted flight patterns.  

Indonesia also experiences tsunamis, earthquakes, and flooding. According to, Indonesia experienced approximately 484 earthquakes in 2016 (a decrease from 599 in 2015).

During the rainy season (approx. November-March), floods and mudslides affect many areas, including Bali. Every year, significant numbers of Indonesians become displaced or are injured due to flooding and mudslides, especially in rural/remote regions.

Economic Concerns

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

The Indonesian government has signed and ratified the World Intellectual Property Organization Internet treaties, but further clarifications of its Copyright Law are needed to implement these treaties.

Drug-related Crimes

Indonesian Customs, INP, and the National Narcotics Agency (BNN) stationed at the air and seaports of major cities (Jakarta, Surabaya, Bali, Medan) continue to arrest drug couriers. Investigation of smuggling attempts has revealed that Indonesia has become a primary destination for drug smuggling operations controlled by Chinese, Iranian, and West African drug trafficking organizations.

In addition to an increase in methamphetamine (“ice”) seizures, law enforcement officials have identified and seized large volumes of synthetic drugs (ecstasy, ketamine). The demand for illegal drugs remains high; and INP and BNN continue to coordinate with other foreign and domestic law enforcement agencies to stem the steady flow of illegal drugs.

Penalties for the possession, use, or trafficking illegal drugs are severe, including the possibility of execution for more serious crimes. Convicted offenders can expect lengthy prison sentences and hefty fines. The death sentence may be imposed in cases involving drug trafficking; multiple convicted traffickers have been executed in recent years, including foreign nationals.

Kidnapping Threat

Kidnappings are rare and have not had a large impact on the expatriate community. Kidnappings are typically financially-motivated, and the perpetrators are usually familiar with the victim and/or victim's family.

Police Response

Police are limited in their ability to respond quickly and efficiently to reports of crime and other emergencies due to insufficient transportation, inadequate training, and limited investigative ability. Skills are improving due to programs offered by the U.S. International Criminal Investigative Training Assistance Program (ICITAP), Anti-Terrorism Assistance Program (ATA), the Bangkok-based International Law Enforcement Academy (ILEA), and others.

Corruption continues to be a problem, and police officers routinely augment meager salaries by accepting payments from motorists who violate traffic laws. Police sometimes charge victims to investigate crimes or to return recovered stolen property.

Persons violating Indonesian laws, even unknowingly, may be expelled, arrested, or imprisoned.

The sex industry, including the commercial exploitation of children, is widespread and is a key focus of law enforcement efforts.

How to Handle Incidents of Police Detention or Harassment

U.S. citizens arrested or detained in Surabaya’s consular district should call the Consulate at +62-31-297-5300 ext. 0 and ask for the American Citizen Services Unit. If the incident occurs after hours, ask for the Duty Officer (The direct emergency after-hours telephone number for the Duty Officer is +62-811-334-183). Remain calm and consider the advice, assistance, and information provided by the Consular Officer or Duty Officer. Consular Officers are often able to visit detainees or arrestees expeditiously.

Crime Victim Assistance

Emergency telephone number: 112

Police: 110

Fire: 113

Ambulance: 118

These numbers, however, are often busy, and the operators are likely to have limited English-language abilities. It is often more effective to request help in person from Indonesian authorities rather than wait for emergency services to respond. Indonesian emergency services, when available, are often rudimentary at best.

There are also local, direct emergency numbers in each district. Visitors, especially those staying for an extended period, are advised to identify the cell and landline numbers for the nearest police station and program them into their phone.

Police/Security Agencies

Indonesian National Police (INP, Kepolisian Negara Republik Indonesia, POLRI): The INP is the national police force and handles day-to-day traffic operations, criminal investigations, and protection of vital property and personnel.

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

National Counter-Terrorism Agency (Badan Nasional Penanggulangan Terorisme, BNPT): BNPT is the national counter-terrorism agency under the Coordinating Ministry for Legal and Security Affairs. BNPT coordinates interagency efforts to eradicate terrorism. BNPT works closely with the INP’s Special Detachment 88 in its counterterrorism efforts.

Medical Emergencies

Embassy employees and private U.S. citizens typically travel to Singapore for treatment of serious medical conditions.

Ambulance services are mostly unavailable – and unreliable at best – so they should not be counted on to transport injured persons to hospitals. Instead, taxis/private vehicles are usually used to transport auto accident victims to hospitals.

Contact Information for Available Medical Services

Siloam Hospitals Surabaya


Jl. Raya Gubeng No.70, Gubeng

Kota SBY, Jawa Timur 60281, Indonesia

Telephone: (+62) 31-503-1333


National Hospital


Jalan Boulevard Famili Selatan Kav. 1

Surabaya, Jawa Timur 60227, Indonesia

Telephone: (+62) 31-297-5777; Fax: (+62) 31-297-5799; Email:


Bali International Medical Clinic (BIMC)


BIMC Hospital Kuta

Jl. Bypass Ngurah Rai No 100X

Kuta 80361, Bali, Indonesia

Telephone: (+62) 361-761-263 / 3003-911; Fax: (+62) 361-764-345; Email:


Bali International Medical Clinic (BIMC)


BIMC Hospital Nusa Dua

Kawasan ITDC Blok D

Nusa Dua 80363, Bali, Indonesia

Telephone: (+62) 361-3000-911; Fax: (+62) 361-3001-150; Email:


Other medical facilities in Indonesia can be found on the U.S. Embassy website.

Available Air Ambulance Services

For air ambulance service, contact SOS International:

Insurance Guidance

All travelers should have travel and medical evacuation insurance. Air ambulance evacuations are expensive: $50,000+.

CDC Country-specific Vaccination and Health Guidance

The CDC offers additional information on vaccines and health guidance for Indonesia.

OSAC Country Council Information

There is an active OSAC council in Jakarta. Please contact OSAC’s East Asia and the Pacific Team with any questions..

U.S. Consulate General Location and Contact Information

Consulate General Address and Hours of Operation

U.S. Consulate General Surabaya

J1. Citra Raya Niaga No. 2

Surabaya 60217

Routine services in Surabaya are offered Mon-Fri, 1000-1100, 1300-1430, by appointment only. The Consulate is closed on weekends and on most Indonesian and U.S. holidays.

Consulate General Contact Numbers

Telephone: (+62) 31-297-5300

Emergency After-Hours Telephone: (+62) 811-334-183

Fax: (+62) 31-567-4492


Nearby Posts

Consular Agent Bali:

Consulate Medan:

Consulate Guidance

Prior to travel, register with the Department of State’s Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) and review the latest security information at and on the Embassy Jakarta’s Safety & Security Messages website.

Additional Resources

Indonesia Country Information Sheet