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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Staying Safe

Staying Safe

When The Phnom Penh Post suffered its sixth break-in last week the burglars demonstrated

considerable ingenuity by removing an air-conditioning unit from an outside wall

and squeezing inside the house.

Despite often elaborate precautions, a determined person will always find a way around

the system.

Only by being wise to some of the crimes currently being committed, it is possible,

perhaps, to stay safe.

Here we pass on a range of hints and advice from security experts and from victims.

Some advice may appear obvious and others, perhaps, strange but all are designed

to increase safety:


  • Maintain vigilance day and night.
  • Lock external doors even when people are in the house.
  • Lock all internal doors at night.
  • Keep a flashlight beside the bed.
  • String razor-wire along external walls and hang cans filled with pebbles from

    wire as an early-warning device.

  • Beef up fences and security walls. Add broken glass. "Try to slow people

    down, both getting in and leaving."

  • Set up "Neighborhood Watch" schemes. Residents take turns patrolling

    the street.

  • Make entry difficult. Slow people down.
  • Keeps lights on at night and illuminate blind spots.
  • Beware of young men carrying notebooks who claim to be from the municipality

    asking to inspect your property.

  • Beware of buying local locks. Duplicate keys are easy to purchase.
  • Get to know your neighbors.
  • Deface valuable equipment with your name, so if it does get stolen it will stand

    out at the market.

  • Prevent doors from being forced from outside.
  • Lock valuabl√•es away inside your house "so they have to break into

    those as well."

  • Bolt air-conditioning units firmly to an inside wall or encase in a steel cage.
  • Check your power supply for illegal taps.
  • Buy a dog.


  • Train guards to report suspicious people and vehicles hanging around.
  • Guard should wait outside the gate for your arrival.
  • Keep your guard on his toes. Never give him a bed.
  • If your guard keeps falling asleep, fire him.
  • Have your guard ring a bell on each hour to show he is awake.

On the streets:

  • Act as if you know where you' are going, even if you do not. Avoid looking at

    maps on the street.

  • Know the quickest and safest route to your destination.
  • If you suspect somebody is following you, go into the nearest safe place, ie

    resturant, friend's house, NGO office, etc.

  • Hold any bags securely and make sure valuables are not carried together in the

    same bag or pocket.

  • Always carry a small amount of money to pay off muggers.
  • Do not take risks and avoid arguments. If a driver challenges you over a fare

    give what you think is right and walk away.

  • If confronted with a weapon, try and deal with the situation calmly.


  • To prevent overnight car theft, remove the distributor arm and/or electrical


  • Inspect your vehicle thoroughly before driving. If you suspect problems, return

    to your home/office and seek help. If you have to leave, drive to a police station

    or a friend's house.

  • Check the rear-view mirror regularly for suspicious vehicles. If you suspect

    you are being followed do not signal your intentions.

  • Vary your routes and driving patterns.
  • Do not drink and drive. Do not speed.
  • Travel with other vehicles.
  • Keep all doors locked.
  • Never carry valuables.
  • Avoid remote city areas.
  • If your vehicle is rammed avoid stopping until you reach a safe area.
  • When arriving home, do not approach your driveway until the gates are fully open.

    You can drive away if someone approaches you.


  • Inform colleagues and friends of your whereabouts and travel plans.
  • Avoid leaving main roads and well-lit areas.
  • Travel with other people and find out as much as you can about the situation

    at your destination.

  • Avoid traveling after dark.
  • Avoid unnecessary journeys.
  • If you have communications equipment, ensure that it works and that you know

    how to use it.

  • Slow down at checkpoints and stop if told.
  • Eat and drink in secure locations and never leave colleagues on their own.


  • Comply with all demands. Your life is worth more than possessions.
  • If attacked do not panic or be aggressive. Stay calm.
  • If accused of anything, try and convince them their accusations are not justified.
  • Try to make radio contact and then maintain it.


  • Familiarize yourself with your location.
  • Keep abreast of political developments and the military situation.
  • Do not speak about politics in public but if compelled make agreeable statements.
  • Avoid unnecessary radio conversations and be cautious.
  • Keep mobile telephones out of sight.


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