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The Great Wall of Paper

February 22, 2013 0 Comments

Spy looking at a pile of books

Letters from a Private Investigator IV

Bali is known by a number of titles – the Island of the Gods, the Island of a Thousand Temples, and more recently the World Peace Committee decided to bestow yet another title: the Island of Peace.

Bali has a local population of around 3.9 million, tourist figures hover around 2.5 million annually and it is also home to 30,000 or so foreign residents (these are just the legal ones). Few would guess another title Indonesian private investigators might justifiably offer  – the Island of Runaways.

Indonesia in general, and perhaps Bali in particular, is one of those havens that people who want to disappear go to.

Our private investigators have had clients who firstly “simply” need to know if someone has arrived in Bali or Indonesia. The targets have their own reasons for wanting to fade away – trying to get longer away than the long arm of the law (I need to find them and serve them papers), a spouse that has run away with the children or simply just left their partner, and parent with children looking for reconcilliation, or a teenager who for some reason has “gone”.

We had one client who was pretty sure their spouse was planning on coming to Bali with their two children – an action that went against a court injunction relating to the children’s custody. The client did not know when exactly, nor the route their partner was planning.

Private Investigator Task 1

See if the runaway was in Bali.

Private Investigator Task 2

Clients that need to know if someone is in Bali or Indonesia think our priavte detectives and private investigators in Jakarta or Bali can just go down to immigration and ask them to click a few keys on a computer and within a couple of minutes a centralised computer system will tell us when they arrived and through which port they landed in. If only it was that simple. This is Indonesia with over 17,500 islands and 44 different ports of entry (by sea, land or air).

As we explain to all our clients in this kind of situation the obstacle basically is that immigration records are neither centralised nor computerized.

For sake of illustration let’s call this client’s spouse “J”. It would be a nice start for any private investigator in Indonesia to the two tasks if J had flown directly into Bali and registered through immigration there. But before going to Bali J might have fancied visiting the 9th-century Buddhist monument in Borobudur Central Java, or taking the children to see the Oranghutans in Borneo. J could have entered through any of the other 43 ports besides Bali and then travelled internally to the Island of the Gods.

As I said the immigration records are not centralised so if J did enter lets say though Jakarta she would not show up in the Bali immigration records through a click or two on a computer in Bali.

This ia a big problem for our private investigators – paper, paper and more paper. Stacks of it in filing cabinets and then piled up on top of them because the cabinets are full.

J’s spouse gave me a two week window to check for the runaway’s arrival. Let’s say J did land directly in Bali and go though immigration there. With 2.5 million tourists and almost 20,000 international flights landing in Bali every year you’ll get the picture of the paper generated over a two week period, and another issue – the potential for human error.

This lack of centralization and massive paper load is not confined to immigration. Indonesia Private Investigation Agency and our Bali Eye private investigators have worked for clients on hotel registrations given to police and with the registrar of births and deaths for various reasons. The numbers are by no means as massive as the traffic going through Bali immigration but the essential difficulties remain.

When i told my client that J had not appeared on the immigration records he looked at me as if i was an abject failure, as if in someway our team of private investigators had not done their job properly. The client was almost certain the spouse was in Bali so why were her records not showing up?

Finally our team of private investigators found J through hotel records. Her arrival into Bali had indeed been via another immigration port.

Before finding her my client was kind enough to give me a tidy tip when he realized our private investigators had indeed pulled out all the stops with immigration: to show him just how antiquated the record keeping systems are, and to calm him down, I took him to immigration to see for himself how things operate and what needed to be done. I wish I had a picture of his face when he was confronted with the Great Wall of Paper for the first time. I guess if he had seen an alien from another planet his expression would not have been that different, and I can’t repeat all the expletives here. Suffice to say he had just never imagined it could be that way and he understood.

Bali Eye Private Investigation Agency (BEPIA) along with our sister agency Indonesia Private Investigation Agency (IPIA) are fully registered Private Investigation Agencies offering private detective and private investigator services to the Private and Business sectors throughout Indonesia and South East Asia.

Filed in: Case Notes • Tags:

About the Author:

BEPIA's Indonesian Director of Investigations has worked on and directed over 400 cases. She has a Diploma (with distinction) in Private Investigation from the UK, and an Australian Government accredited certificate in Investigative Services.