Papua New Guinea cities today are often lawless violent places. Crimes committed at the point of a gun are commonplace and the police force, possessing an inferior arsenal, is frequently unwilling to confront the armed "raskal" gangs responsible.
It was not always so. During the 1960's the only people in PNG permitted to have firearms were members of the military, a few thoroughly screened "special applicants" such as slaughtermen, pilots and ship's captains, and each administrative patrol post also had some weapons securely locked away for emergency use by police or Government patrol officers.
Every firearm was rigorously monitored.
After mine ended up on the bottom of the flooded Gwenif River following a "canoe malfunction" during a 2 week foot patrol of the Sepik plains, I was interrogated, and required to explain the loss in a Statutory Declaration and numerous other Government forms in triplicate.
Each village was also permitted to have one only shotgun for the purposes of hunting wild game. The gun licence was allocated to a village elder who was responsible and accountable for use of the weapon.
Gun related crime simply did not occur under this regime.
Burglaries were always common in a country where there was so much discrepancy between the "haves" and the "have nots", but guns have now replaced inventiveness and taken the creativity out of larceny.
The first crime against me was the theft one night of a case containing a piano accordian which I had left under my house on a rural outpost. Presumably the thief was gutted when he discovered that it was not full of fifty Kina notes or gold bullion.
The first I knew of it was when the local constable visited me early next morning dragging the young offender by the ear to provide an apology along with return of the instrument.
Next, in Lae town, my watch was stolen off a table in my house by a thief gaining access through louvre windows, while I slept in another room.
I bought a new watch, deliberately leaving it in the same place while I camouflaged myself, solid length of 4×2 hardwood in hand, behind some sofa cushions waiting to exact some GOF retribution if he tried poking his head back in through the windows again.
Light fingers apparently do not strike in the same place twice.
Homeowners eventually started welding steel mesh over windows as a deterrent, so thieves then graduated to removing sheets of roofing iron instead to gain access to goodies.
The most innovative incident occurred at a "burglar proofed" rural shop.
(burglar alarms and electronic devices were not available in PNG in the 1960's)
All the windows, doors, walls and roof were "steel meshed", but the wooden floor was a few inches off the ground to avoid termite attack.
The innovative thieves firstly stole a couple of car jacks then burrowed under, and lifted up the floor to gain access.
Maybe they went on to become banking executives or used car salesmen.
Or, more likely, when their society degenerated and no longer effectively prevented them from owning guns, they graduated to simply shooting people before stealing their possessions.