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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Construction boom raises risk of break-ins, says expert

Security professionals warn that construction sites allow for the increased risk of break-ins.
Security professionals warn that construction sites allow for the increased risk of break-ins. Pha Lina

Construction boom raises risk of break-ins, says expert

The strong growth in the economy has largely coincided with the construction boom in Phnom Penh and all over Cambodia. However, a recent trend that is symptomatic of the burgeoning amount of construction across Cambodia is the increase in house and business break-ins proximate to construction sites, said John Muller, Managing Director of Global Security Solutions (GSS) Cambodia.

Although statistics are hard to come by, Muller, a security professional with almost 30 years of experience in South East Asia, who follows this issue closely, has noted a rise in break-ins around construction sites where workers have ample time to survey the movements of occupants, determine their wealth and assess easy access points. He also noted that recently there have been various cases of increasingly bold break-ins where people are entering while occupants sleep and even entering bedrooms to take high value items.

In order to mitigate this risk, said Muller, those living or working near construction zones should assess the most vital areas of their home or business and secure those areas.

“Your most vital areas are always the areas where there are people, first and foremost, and, secondly, the areas where you keep your most valued property,” he said.

Security cameras equipped around homes and businesses can deter break-ins
Security cameras equipped around homes and businesses can deter break-ins. Photo supplied

Keep in mind, said Muller, “there are few broad daylight type break-ins, most will occur at night.”

Family bedrooms can be protected with a home alarm system, which have handheld remote controls to arm and disarm. Muller advises there are many such systems on the market now and some very affordable options. Those seeking higher security solutions can find that some include magnetic switches for windows and doors, glass break detectors and even motion sensor detectors.

Access control is increasingly used in Cambodian businesses and residences because people are learning that, in Muller’s words, “if you have one key, you may as well have 1000.”

Always try to have only one point of entry to your home or business, recommended Muller, as keys are extremely easy to copy in Cambodia and locks are easy to break. House help and private security guards always represent a certain level of human risk as they assume positions of trust, yet may not attain a high enough salary to resist opportunistic theft or collusion with outside interests. Therefore, for those with the means, non-key personalized entry systems will avoid these risks, such as fingerprint or retina scanning systems and cameras on main entry points.

Outside your property, trees on the borders of the property can act like ladders and cover for anyone hiding on the outskirts of the property. Lighting should be considered and sodium yellow lighting casts a shadow better than any other outdoor lighting, making intruders more obvious to you, your dog and any motion detecting alarms. Motion detectors are recommended outside the home or business, said Muller, connected to a siren alarm. However, if you have a large outdoor area, maybe a commercial property, motion detectors and cameras may be too expensive to monitor the whole area – in which case a dog and/or a professional guard may be the best option.

Cameras are always recommended for the outside of your house and the main roadways because it offers a basic deterrent, regardless of whether or not they are functioning. If you have a camera outside, potential intruders see your house as a hardened target, said Muller, and assume you have other security measures inside.

Andre de Jong, Managing Director of Robert Bosch (Cambodia) Co., Ltd., suggests this increased risk of break-ins should really be mitigated by the building developer in charge of the construction crew – who has a duty to ensure on site security measures during the construction stage of the development.

By installing cameras on the construction site borders, the property developer can deter construction workers from entering neighboring properties at all times. Furthermore, once the developer invests in such security equipment, this is not wasted capital whatsoever – as these systems can be transferred from the perimeter of the site into the new development once construction is complete. Such construction site security standards are standard policy for many international developments currently underway in Cambodia. However, it is not yet enforced in Cambodian building codes and legislation–something that de Jong hopes to see change in upcoming construction law policy reviews.

James Whitehead, content director for



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