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3 arrested over gold heists

3 arrested over gold heists

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Police apprehend three men accused of being part of an armed gang that has robbed several gold sellers and banks around Phnom Penh

Photo by:
Chrann Chamroeun

Police allow reporters to question three suspects arrested in connection with a spate of gold and bank robberies in Phnom Penh and Kampong Cham.

THREE suspected members of the heavily armed gang of gold and bank robbers who have terrorised Phnom Penh and Kampong Cham in recent months have been arrested and sent to municipal court, a deputy municipal police commissioner said Tuesday, finally giving some relief to the Kingdom's gold sellers.

"We have arrested three of the nine robbers who have committed seven or eight crimes. Notably, they robbed an ACLEDA bank near City  Hall, then robbed 300 million riels (US$75,000) in Kampong Cham and then robbed a gold shop in Svay Park commune of more than 300 damlung (11 kilograms of gold)," Deputy Municipal Police Commissioner Pol Pithey said.

A senior police officer said that the three men - identified by police as Tang Ron, 31, Kol, 25, and Samrech, 38 -  are surely hardened criminals with a history of armed robbery.

"With limited time until we send the three suspects to the municipal court later today [Tuesday], we haven't had much time for interrogation, but they have clearly been involved in several robberies in the past," said Choun Narin, a senior bureau police chief.

The three arrested men all have prior convictions and have previously spent time in Prey Sar prison, according to Rasmey Kampuchea.

Tang Ron admitted to the Post that he had played a crucial role in some of the armed robberies but gave no indication that either he or the other two men masterminded the crimes, which would still leave the gang leader roaming the streets.

In the svay Pak gold robbery, I got only $15,000 ... I drove the main car.

"I have robbed places three times with seven other people. In the Svay Pak gold robbery, I got only US$15,000, and for the ACLEDA robbery, I got US$10,000."

"Two times, I only drove a motorbike that followed the primary car, and the third time I drove the main car."

Pol Pithey explained how the gang's seemingly brazen daytime lootings were actually the result of careful planning. Earlier reports emphasised the organisation of the robbers, but the extent of their planning seemed to surprise even the police.

"Before committing any crimes, the perpetrators carefully studied the shops to find out in advance if the seller was careless and if the police were incompetent," he said.

For example, the midday looting of a gold seller in Phnom Penh occurred only after multiple aborted attempts, according to Pol Pithey.

"At noon, there is a gap when police are resting. They knew this before committing the crime," he said. "They had planned to rob Svay Park four or five times previously but were unsuccessful because we had deployed competent police."

Chuon Narin said the police knew the identities of the remaining robbers, but they have gone into hiding.

Nonetheless, Pol Pithey said that with so many of the gang members still at large, people need to remain vigilant.

"We have requested that people and jewellery sellers cooperate with police. They can help nearby police intervene if they suspect they see a perpetrator," he said.

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