Phnom Penh deputy governor Khleang Huot said that capital police forces had carried out a two-day operation to inspect pawn shops, arresting five suspects, while Preah Vihear provincial authorities shut down 66 online gambling locations.

The operation in Phnom Penh began on September 20, following an emergency meeting called by municipal governor Khuong Sreng.

The meeting was attended by the Phnom Penh municipal court prosecutor, the Phnom Penh municipal police chief, the Phnom Penh municipal military police chief and governors from the 14 districts of the capital, and aimed to respond urgently to illegal gambling in the capital.

Huot told The Post that over the course of the two-day sting, police had detained five suspects and seized more than 500 motorcycles. These measures were taken to maintain public order, as it was alleged that the pawn shops had accepted stolen goods.

“Many thefts stem from gambling. If there are no pawn shops, thefts are reduced. If there are no pawn shops, who will thieves sell their stolen goods to? If thieves steal items and use them themselves, sooner or later they will be caught, and will be punished,” he said.

He added that judicial police officers are questioning the five suspects. The authorities would continue inspecting pawn shops.

“The Telegram accounts of some illegal pawn shops have been shared with me. They secretly receive stolen goods. The prosecutors will not forgive the owners of these businesses but will prosecute them,” he said.

During the operation, Khleang Huot instructed all pawn shop owners to conduct honest business and avoid breaking the law, telling them that ultimately they would be punished and their businesses would suffer.

“If we want to crack down on gambling, we have to get into the bottom of the problem. I have explained to these businessmen that if they fail to obey the law, there will be consequences. I know that they want to make a profit, but seeking that profit makes them forget the law and do harm to society. They have to understand the difference between right and wrong,” he said.

He added that the detained shop owners did not have the correct documents for the seized motorcycles. Owners who had had motorcycles stolen could bring their documents to the Overseas Cambodia Investment Corporation in Chroy Changvar district and see if there stolen bike was among the seized items.

“Some of the pawn shops were able to show us the correct documentation, but some could not even produce papers for one bike,” he said.

Lim Sreytouch, who was lucky enough to discover her motorcycle at the OCIC, said it was stolen in Chbar Ampov on September 10.

“I was really happy when the authorities recovered these stolen motorcycles. If pawn shops no longer receive illegal items, then thieves will not be able to sell motorbikes so easily – hopefully this means the end of motorbike thefts in Phnom Penh,” she added.

Separately, Preah Vihear provincial authorities shut down 66 online gambling locations and reprimanded their owners.

The administration said that as of September 19 its police forces had closed down 33 lottery locations, 31 online cock-fighting operations and two lottery ticket locations.

“The owners of these properties have all signed contracts and agreed to cease all gambling activities. Any tools related to their illegal actions will be removed,” it added.