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Bali Police Arrest Phone Thieves Who Specialise In Targeting Tourists

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Gianyar Police in Bali has arrested two young men in connection with a series of tourist phone robberies. The duo, named as I Wayan Mandi, 18, and I Nengah Buyung, 22, are both from Tianyar Tengah Village in Karangasem. The pair were paraded in front of the local press at the Ubud Police Headquarters on Friday 8thy July. 

Officials from Gianyar Police are relieved to have caught the pair since evidence suggests that they have been running their criminal operation for some time. The police described Mandi and Buyung as specialists in targeting tourists and long-term foreign residents who drive in the Ubud area using GoogleMaps on their phones. 

The arrestees are also known to Denpasar Police who have been searching for the pair after they learned of two robberies in May this year. The pair were suspected of conducting two phone robberies on the 1st and the 5th of May.

According to local reports, they stole a phone from an unnamed victim in Mas Village, close to Ubud on Sunday 1st May. On the 5th of May, they are reported to have stolen the phone of a Hungarian doctor who was driving through Denpasar Central on the way to his villa home in Laplapan Village.

Speaking at the press conference the Head of Ubud Police, Kompol Made Tama, shared elements of the victim’s statement. He said ‘the victim was on his way to the villa, using a motorbike…and at that time he put the Huawei Mate 20 Pro cellphone, in the handle of the cellphone that was attached to the left handlebar of the motorcycle’.

He described how the pair drove up alongside the victim’s moped and snatched the phone from the holder. They are then said to have sped away driving northwards. The victim is said to have given chase but did not want to endanger himself further and reported the incident to the police. 

With this report lodged Tama launched an investigation led by the Head of the Criminal Investigation Unit of the Ubud Police, Iptu Ngakan Ketut Erawan. Since the victim was residing in Laplapan Village just outside of Ubud the case was taken on by the Ubud Police Department with the help of the Denpasar Unit.

Tama explained at Friday’s press conference how it was the victim’s clear description of the criminals that lead the police teams to make arrests. Tama said that ‘the investigation team received information that I Nengah Buyung was in Denpasar’. The team was assembled to conduct a raid on the boarding house where Buyung was believed to be staying. 

‘When we were about to make an arrest, they had run away…There was a chase, and finally, the perpetrator was caught in a vacant lot…During the interrogation, he admitted that the act was carried out with his friend I Wayan Mandi’.

The team then launched an operation to locate and arrest Mandi, who was eventually found living not far from the Denpasar boarding house. The team also managed to arrest another wanted phone thief, I Dewa Putu Agus Merta, 26, from Bangli. Concluding the press conference Tama said ‘Hopefully, with this arrest, Bali, especially the tourism area, will be free from the [phone] snatching of tourists’.

While Ubud Police have had some success in catching phone snatchers in the area, police in other parts of Bali are being urged to take action against the rise in these kinds of crimes. In the last week, two Australian tourists had their phones and bags snatched in separate incidences while driving mopeds.

Geena Coulson from Brisbane told Australian newspapers of her terrifying ordeal where not only her phone was stolen but her bank account emptied with seemingly little help from local authorities. 

Eliza Whitford from Melbourne was riding as a passenger on a moped while on holiday in Canggu with her boyfriend when she was violently attacked during a bag snatching. She describes how a man on a moped drove up beside the couple and stabbed her in the thigh as he was stashing through her bag strap. 

Travelers are reminded to keep their phones and valuables out of sight while driving mopeds or walking along busy tourist streets on the island.

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Friday 8th of July 2022

It's a good thing the local police apprehended the phone thieves. No bribery needed is it?? The authorities left no stone unturned in their search for the stolen phones.

The Brisbane model should be thanking the local authorities for accelerating their investigation instead of venting on social media for the world to know that Bali is unsafe. A few isolated incident becomes a smear campaign. Travel responsibly, use your personal instinct to keep valuables out of sight. Otherwise you are inviting potential thieves be it local or foreign.