A group of six notorious accused robbers – who had been operating in several provinces where they robbed villagers, gold sellers and money exchange businesses, including Wing branches – was on Thursday arrested by police, announced yesterday.
Authorities paraded the men and a collection of evidence before the media during a press conference organised by the Ministry of Interior yesterday.
The group’s suspected ringleader, Bet Toeu, 35, from Prey Veng, was shot in one leg on Thursday as he attempted to escape to avoid arrest. The group was arrested in Svay Tany village in Kandal’s Sa’ang district.
Loek Vannak, deputy chief of the Ministry of Interior’s crime department, said the group had committed at least 10 robberies in Prey Veng, Kampong Chhnang, Takeo, Tbong Khmum, Kampong Cham and Kandal provinces. “They have robbed and killed people,” Vannak said.
Major General Keng Sokun, also deputy chief of the crime department, said the group was part of an armed robbery gang that authorities cracked down on in 2015 in Roka Korng village in Kandal’s Muk Kampoul district.
Sokun said Toeu was also associated with a robber known as Mormis, who is believed to be the ringleader of the group busted in Roka Korng.
The gang had recently purchased construction materials from a seller at his home in Kandal in order to case the premises.
On Thursday, the group was allegedly headed back to the home to commit the robbery, but were being tracked by police, Sokun said.
Authorities surrounded the vehicle they were in and ordered them to exit the vehicle, which is when Toeu tried to escape. Police shot more than 10 rounds into the air to compel him to stop, Sokun said, “but he kept running, so authorities shot him in the leg to stop him”.
Only four of the suspects were shown to the media during yesterday’s press conference be-cause Toeu was getting treatment and another suspect had health problems.
The other suspects were Chea Pich, 35; Mon Khun, 48; Oh Vorn, 24; Chea Rotha, 42; and Khem Thea, 48, also known as Thoeun, who previously served a one-year term in prison for theft in Banteay Meanchey.
The group will be sent to Kampong Chhnang police station because they committed two robberies in that province – including one in 2014 in which a victim was killed – with the most recent case on July 31, Sokun said. The group had been operating for at least three years, Kandal police said.
Authorities confiscated two guns, a K-59 pistol and an AK47, and several other pieces of equipment, including two torches.
Daravuth Doeuk, compliance director for Wing, said the company takes safety as a top priority. He said company officials became aware through the media that the group had planned to rob a Wing branch in Kandal before being arrested, and said the management team was going to assess the incident to see if more security was needed at branches.
“We need to understand the environment, and we will study it carefully and decide,” he said. He said there are already several security safeguards at each branch, including bulletproof windows and security cameras.
Employees attend security training at least twice a year, he added, and popular locations are required to have a security guard on site.
Additional reporting by Yesenia Amaro and Phak Seangly