Police in Pursat province yesterday arrested three men suspected of stealing five Buddha statues from a pagoda.
The statues were allegedly found in a car the suspects were driving in Pursat’s Roleab commune following a report of the theft by monks at the commune’s pagoda, according to Pech Moa, deputy chief of Pursat town’s Roleab commune.
“We suspected the men were transporting the statues because the pagoda called police to say they had lost some Buddha busts, and we detained them while they were driving,” he said.
The alleged thieves are Noun Sok Ra, 29, Kong Phanha, 19, and Kim Bun Hy, 16, who all live in Roleab commune. “They stole the statues from the pagoda at night,” Moa added. “We do not yet know yet how much they are worth.”
The suspects reportedly admitted they had stolen the icons and told police they were on their way to sell them in another province.
Police were questioning the men further and said they would be sent to court today. The Buddha statues were being returned to the pagoda.
The attempted theft is the second night-time raid on a pagoda in less than two months.
A jewel-encrusted urn worth more than $30,000 was stolen from a pagoda in Kampot province on August 13 by thieves who were thought to include one of the pagoda’s former monks.