NOOSA - The robbery and kidnapping of a United States official in Port Moresby this week could emerge as a signal event for Papua New Guinea’s crime-ridden capital.
Especially as the crime occurred at a police roadblock and may have been carried out by a plain clothes officer.
Many organisations employing expatriate staff in Port Moresby lay down stringent rules around their employees’ movements in the city.
These include using personal security devices, vehicle mounted duress alarms, protection details to shadow cars deployed at night and, of course, personal bodyguards.
In this case, it seems the official had none of these available and, when he was held up at the police roadblock, was compelled to hand over his cellphone and watch.
He was then forced to drive at gunpoint to an ATM and withdraw cash. The robber exited the vehicle in the CBD, leaving the victim shocked but otherwise unharmed.
Detectives are investigating and say they have identified a suspect and are interrogating officers on duty at the time of the robbery.
The US embassy has put a nightly curfew on its staff and is no doubt revisiting its security arrangements for next year’s APEC leaders’ summit.
And the O’Neill government will be scratching its head about what more it needs to do to tame criminal elements, including those in uniformed, while the nation's capital is on show to the world.
The last thing it will want is a multi-million kina public relations event upstaged by some of the more undesirable aspects of Port Moresby’s night life.