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Pause in pawnshop raids

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Police say raids on illegal pawnshops have paused temporarily while they sort through the bikes and mobile phones they have already seized.

Photo by:
Sovann Philong

Police officials sort through some of the 1,300 motorbikes they have seized over the last month during a series of raids on illegal pawn shops.  

POLICE have temporarily stopped seizing motorbikes from pawnshops throughout Phnom Penh and are currently sorting through the more than 1,300 motorbikes that have been taken since December 27 as part of a crackdown on suspected unlicensed pawnshops, Phnom Penh Deputy Police Chief Pol Pithey told the Post Thursday.

Pawnshop owners who can present proper documentation papers for motorbikes taken from their shops will get them back, he said, adding that police had already returned 68 motorbikes to two shops in Tuol Kork district.

"Our local authorities are always working very hard to crack down on illegal pawnshops to reduce robbery, theft and the other crimes in order to maintain security and safety for people," Pol Pithey said.

The crackdown, which has involved 30 pawnshops so far, has led to the seizure of 1,384 bikes, only four of which have been linked to theft, he said. Around 400 do not have plate numbers, and more than 200 have fake plate numbers, he said.

"Now, we have paused the crackdown for a while," he said. "The next step is to sort the legal bikes from the illegal bikes and give the legal bikes back to the pawnshop owners while keeping the illegal ones for further investigation."

After the first round of bikes are sorted, police will continue raiding suspected unlicensed pawnshops, he said, though he declined to say when he expected the sorting process to be completed.

In a related operation, police have seized 2,248 mobile phones from the same 30 pawnshops. Again, those phones for which pawnshop owners can present proper documentation papers will be returned, he said.

Theft deterrant

Pol Pithey said he believed the first round of raids had served as a deterrent for robbers in Phnom Penh.

"The crime of robbery and theft has lessened in Phnom Penh" since the raids began, he said.  

Opposition lawmaker Yim Sovann expressed his support for the raids shortly after they began but urged the government to also crack down on illegal gambling, which he described as "the big concern and worry for society".

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