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Pickpocketed at the Busway LIPPO CIKARANG - It was about to happen of course. But for the first time in ten years Indonesia it happened on a place where I could expect it the most. On the Jakarta Busway. It was a rush hour trip from Halte Bunderan HI to terminal Blok M. I traveled during rush hour because I had a scheduled birthday to attend in southern Jakarta at seven. I would not make it, but that was less of a problem.

When I entered the bus stop, my girlfriend bought two tickets for us. We queued up to enter the bus. Because it was rush hour where were several dozens of people queuing up here. It was a waiting game. With each bus that stopped, just a few people were allowed to board the bus, because they were already full enough. When we got closer to the doors we were more like sardines in a can, so I regularly checked my wallet to see if the passenger behind me didn't take it.

It's not that I didn't trust those persons, but pickpocketing just happens so I was quite aware of my wallet here. After getting on the bus it was just as full as the bus stop. With every next stop we made we moved towards the front of the bus, since we didn't have to go off until the very last stop. Eventually we would be able to sit down for a few minutes I supposed, but it didn't get to that point yet.

All of a sudden a woman in front of me bent over to grab something of the floor. At the same moment I heard a middle-aged man behind me "copet!". The man had already grabbed another middle-aged man in nice white blouse and jeans by the arms. Two others jumped in to grab the man as well. One pulled his hair and the other got him by the neck. I was just half a meter away.

Some other passengers became involved as well. One shouted that he threw away another mobile phone. It was picked up by another female passenger. Before we could stop at the next bus-stop, the apparent pickpocket sustained some beatings to the back of his head. At the bus stop two big guys stepped in with handcuffs to take the man off the bus. He refused, stating he did not do anything wrong. Too bad my phone dropped from hit hands and there were witnesses he threw away another phone as well.

Heavily resisting to get off the bus, he was beaten in the head some more times. Eventually he was cuffed and dragged off the bus when candidate passengers moved back at the bus stop. He was directly dragged out of sight and passengers could get off the bus again. Within a matter of seconds after that, the situation returned to normal.

I had my mobile phone back, another passenger on the bus - an elderly man - as well, and someone that is missing his or her phone might just be lucky since the thief threw that one on the floor as well. It was taken as evidence. I hope the TransJakarta crew will do this part of their job as well, by trying to return that mobile phone to the person it belongs.

I felt awkward, knowing that something managed to get something out of my pocket without me noticing it. He didn't take my wallet because it was too tight and I would have noticed it for sure. But my phone is just loosely in my pocket. I happened to have some 200.000 Rupiah in cash in my pocket as well, but he tried to go for something of more value and failed miserably.

I thanked the woman that picked up my phone and the big middle-aged man that was the first one to shout. They prevented me from losing over 100 telephone numbers. Those numbers are much more of value than a Nokia Navigator if not only expressed in money. I didn't bother to get off the bus, since I knew that locals are much more capable of taking care of business like this. Probably the pickpocket wished there was police near him at the end.

It is always advised that foreigners should avoid this kind of sudden events, but I was not scared or panicked for a moment since it was not directed at me. Even better, it was to prevent me - and others indeed - from having a bad experience. It were total strangers that were probably looking at me because I am a foreigner that reacted instantly when another person not only looked at me.

Posted in Culture @ 28 June 2009 03:38 CET by Jeroen · 'Blog' RSS feed · permalink

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