As part of a citywide effort to crack down on bag snatching, tuk-tuk drivers across Phnom Penh are being drafted by police to chase after and turn in robbers, with the promise of a $100 reward per case, according to officials.
On Monday, a group of roughly 25 tuk-tuk drivers met with Tuol Kork district police, where they were told to speed after thieves, knock them off their motorbikes and bring them to police headquarters to gather a reward, said Horm Kea, chief of the district’s Boeung Kak I commune, who was at the meeting. Any damage to the vigilantes’ vehicles would be paid for by officials, Kea said.
“This is our encouragement to them for their contribution as a citizen,” District Police Chief Houn Sothy added.
According to Deputy Phnom Penh Police Chief Song Ly, the drafting is another facet of a plan to crack down on petty crime, following a call last week by National Police Chief Neth Savoeun for officers to push for attempted murder charges against theft suspects.
While Tuol Kork is the first district to announce the tuk-tuk plan, it will be implemented across all 12 districts in the capital, Ly said. The budget for the incentives would come not from the National Police budget but from local “donation committees” or from money saved, he said, without clarifying.
But according to Yin Phalla, 35, a tuk-tuk driver who works in Tuol Kork, few drivers would likely achieve the task, despite the prevalence of theft.
“I don’t think it’s effective to get tuk-tuks to chase down the thieves or bag snatchers, because those snatchers’ motors are very fast,” he said, adding that this would likely increase traffic accidents. “I don’t think it’s possible.”