Apriadi Gunawan, Medan – North Sumatra Police have arrested 119 people who were allegedly involved in a series of violent thefts.
Provincial police spokesman Sr. Comr. Hadi Wahyudi stated that the suspects were involved in 69 cases of begal (street crimes) in six areas.
Hadi told The Jakarta Post on Wednesday that the police were investigating all the cases and did not rule out the possibility that the number of suspects would increase.
The police have also continued to intensify patrols, he added, to keep the region safe from street robberies.
"The police are paying serious attention to these cases. We will not hesitate to take firm and measured action against the perpetrators, who have threatened the safety of the people," Hadi said.
According to the spokesman, the provincial capital of Medan has the most street robbery cases, with 45, followed by Belawan with 12 cases, Batubara with five, Deli Serdang with three, Binjai with two and Asahan and Simalungun with one case each.
On Monday, North Sumatra Police deployed 12 units of Perintis Samapta patrol cars in Medan, which police chief Insp. Gen. Agung Setya Imam Effendi said aimed to control and improve the city's safety and comfort in public areas.
"Medan should be a safe city, the 12 cars are ready to operate 24 hours [a day]," said Agung.
Earlier this month, Medan Mayor Bobby Nasution, who is also President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo's son-in-law, expressed his annoyance toward street robbers and asked the police not to hesitate to shoot them along with other similar criminals who disturb the peace and security of the community.
"Street robbers and other criminals have no place in Medan. It is the right thing for the authorities to act decisively because we want peace and security in Medan," said Bobby.
Bobby's remark has been criticized by activists for potentially leading to extrajudicial killings, which would constitute human rights violations as victims would lose their right to be tried in court.
The Institute for Criminal Justice Reform (ICJR) called on Bobby to be more cautious in talking about shooting criminals to death and suggested the mayor resolve crimes through a systemic approach by ensuring the people's prosperity and protecting citizens' rights. (dre/gev)