Rash of Temple Thefts in Canggu Leaves Locals Fuming

The Bali Times

VILLAGERS in the Canggu area have stepped up neighbourhood security patrols following a spate of recent thefts targeting local Hindu temples that have seen sacred artefacts worth millions of rupiah stolen.

There have been several break-ins at temples in Kulibul, Anyar, Tibubeneneg and Padung Bali, Dalung, since December.

The break-in at the Pura Beten Ancak temple in Aseman Kawan, Tibu-beneneg, was discovered on December 28 by local priest I Wayan Lipet.

“I discovered the thefts at about 8am. All five of the shrines had been broken into, one by one,” he said.

Padlocks securing the shrines within the temple complex had been smashed and sandalwood statues, gold items and ceremonial money had been taken.

“These were very old things, and very important. I don’t know how old they were but they had been in this temple for generations,” Lipet told The Bali Times.

He estimated the total value of the loss at around Rp75 million (US$8,043), adding that a request had been made to the Badung regent for financial assistance in replacing the stolen items.

“It’s not easy to replace these things. It’s not like if you have a television stolen, you can’t just go out and buy a new one. There is no sandalwood in Bali, so we have to order it from outside, and we have to get a permit for it. But the real cost is from the ceremonies we have to do,” Lipet said, adding that once replacement sacral statues were obtained it could take up to three months to complete all the necessary rituals for their installation.

Lipet said that villagers had no idea who was behind the crimes and that they had received no information from the police after an initial inspection.

“They certainly weren’t from the village,” he said of the robbers, adding that thefts from temples carried a particular stigma in Bali.

“The thieves could have been from Bali. There are also bad people here, but they would have to be crazy to steal from a temple,” he said.

Lipet said that local villagers were very upset by the loss of their communal heirlooms. “If we meet the people who did this, they could be attacked,” he said.

Items stolen from Balinese temples in the past have turned up in antique markets in Java.

Lipet said that there was generally very little crime in the area.

“There are always people around the houses, so it’s safe.  The thieves must have known that the temple would be quiet at night,” he said.

Following the losses villagers in the Canggu area have increased the level of nightly security patrols.

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