Friday August 4, 2006
[size=150]Tomb raiders move to Miri[/size]
By STEPHEN THEN
MIRI: Tomb raiders in Sarawak are getting bolder.
They have gone urban in their macabre operations and have started plundering cemeteries in the heart of the city in their quest to steal treasures from the dead.
As many as 15 graves located within the Miri city perimeter have been plundered over the past month, with coffins smashed open and valuable personal belongings of the deceased stolen.
Seven tombs were desecrated in the latest incident just two days ago in a cemetery for indigenous communities at Riam Road.
Miri Police chief Asst Comm Fauzi Saadi told The Star yesterday: Previously, these sort of things happened only in rural cemeteries. These tomb raiders are now targeting urban cemeteries as well.
He acknowledged that the grave robbers had managed to evade the police for more than two years in this northern region of Sarawak.
The police had few clues about how to catch these nocturnal thieves.
It is very difficult to catch them in the act. We dont know when or where they will strike, he said.
The only way to stop such incidents is for the native communities to stop the practice of burying valuable items inside the coffins of their dead.
If the grave robbers manage to steal valuable items from one coffin, they will want to plunder even more coffins. They will not stop.
As long as there are valuables inside, these grave robbers will continue to carry out raids, said ACP Fauzi.
Last year, many cemetery desecrations, across the state, were reported to the police.
It is a common practice for native communities in Sarawak to place all the personal belongings of a dead person inside the coffin as well.
Often this includes expensive jewellery such as gold rings, necklaces and bracelets used in traditional marriages and other customary rites.