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The Bali Blog « Street Justice: Thief Beaten by Mob in Legian, Kuta

There was a lot of hot debate recently on Facebook's notorious Ubud Community after a thief was caught red-handed in Legian near Kuta, Bali, and severely beaten. Cue smartphone pictures and YouTube videos. Unusually, the police arrived in time to save his life.

When a person decides to be a criminal in Indonesia they go all-out, Bonnie-and-Clyde style. They know the consequences of being caught by the police, know the shocking prisons here - and they know what happens if they get caught by the public.

So they go no-holds-barred. Machetes, and heavy violence - see the story of the British woman who was murdered in her villa in Junjungan, Ubud.

Criminals in Indonesia have no fear - and are often feeding a crystal meth habit that makes them highly unstable. There have been too many stories of visitors in Kuta, Legian and Seminyak being ripped off their scooters for a smartphone or handbag.

It's spreading slowly to Ubud.

The criminal most often escapes, and the victim is left bleeding on the road. It's not just a sly pick-pocketing, or a quick purse-snatch on the street that leaves a victim shaken - it's torn skin and broken bones, and the occasional death. Few incidents make it to the papers.

Thieves in Indonesia know the consequences when they get caught by a mob. And it isn't just locals who get beaten - there was the story of the Russian tourist who stole a woodcarving from a souvenir stall in Tanah Lot, was chased on his motorbike until he fell off, and was heavily beaten by angry shopkeepers until the police turned up.

The Balinese are some of the most patient and accepting people in the world.

But thieves really anger them. It makes their island look bad. Thieves also hurt Bali's major source of income - tourism - and so for the Balinese it's a double-barrelled thing. And when they catch a thief, they beat him, often to death. That thief is upsetting their livelihoods, and their pride.

And that doesn't work here.

You may disagree with street justice - it is always brutal in Asia - but it must put off a few who are still in two minds about chasing a life of crime.

Bag-snatch in Legian, from Caron Hawkridge on Facebook's Ubud Community

"I would like to share what happened to my husband and aunty last Sunday night on 12th April.

My husband was giving my 69-year-old aunty a lift to her hotel after we had been out for a friend's birthday party. As they entered Jalan Melasti in Legian, another motorbike approached very quickly and pulled at my aunty to get her bag. During the struggle my husband and aunty were thrown from the scooter.

My husband lay unconscious on the road. Thankfully a lot of locals helped my husband and aunty, and managed to get them to hospital. My aunty's injuries are severe facial lacerations and a fractured shoulder.

My husband has a fractured skull with bleeding on the brain, a fractured shoulder, a fractured collarbone, three fractured ribs and severe cuts and bruising.

My husband was medevacked to Perth Hospital's Trauma Unit a few days later. We are finally back in Melbourne, with lots of healing to do.

I really feel this needs to be shared as it is becoming a real problem in the south of Bali, and lives are being lost."

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