'We are tired of crime,' said a man whose motorcycle was nearly stolen from a Jakarta market. 'If we have things stolen from us we do not have the money to replace them.' As he returned to his parked Honda Grand one recent morning, a parking attendant was holding a man by the arm and asked if he knew the suspected thief who had been trying to wheel away his motorcycle. He said 'no', and someone shouted 'Thief!' In a matter of seconds, dozens of people from vendors at the market to waiting motorcycle taxi drivers and passersby, mobbed the young man. Egged on by calls of 'Burn him!' and 'Kill him!' they bashed him with sticks and rocks for more than 30 minutes. They would have burned him, but the gasoline vendor hadn't opened his shop yet. After the man lost consciousness, the mob eventually dispersed, and the thief was carried to a nearby military post, but he died on the way.
The police have done little to stem mob violence. Vigilantes are rarely arrested and few are convicted.
'The police don't care about street justice because we're taking care of the thieves for them,' said a shopkeeper who had witnessed the fatal beating of another motorcycle thief in front of his vendor's stall in Jakarta last month.