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Policemen off the beat

Policemen off the beat

Phnom Penh police are blaming a recent spate of street robberies including that of

the United States Ambassador Kent Wiedemann on a lack of police patrols.

Ambassador Wiedemann and his wife were robbed at gunpoint when walking near their

home

on Nov 7.

In another high profile attack, Director of the United Nations Centre for Human Rights,

Rosemary McCreery, had her house broken into during the day two weeks ago.

No one was injured, and the thief fled when disturbed by a maid.

An officer at the Foreign Police Bureau said that they had had 30 armed robberies

of foreigners reported to them over the past month.

Phnom Penh police official Bith Kimhong said that stopping the patrols had opened

the way for criminal activities.

"We had to stop doing our patrols around the city for a while - that seems to

have given more opportunities to robbers or pickpockets to carry out their activities,"

he said.

A Foreign Police official said patrols had resumed following the attack on Ambassador

Wiedemann and there has been a corresponding decrease in street crime.

Kimhong said he did not know why the patrols had been canceled but he suspected it

had to do with the recent police reforms.

"If there are changes like this in the police officials the gangsters always

have the chance to do more of their activities," he said.

"But now we do our patrolling in each Khan [district] so it has made the security

much better in the last few weeks."

The police in Chamkarmon district said that they arrested 15 pickpockets in the two

days before the water festival and are holding them at the police station from where

they will be sent for 'reeducation'.

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