The Phnom Penh police minor crimes bureau said on Tuesday that two groups of suspects, totalling 10 people, have been arrested in connection with 12 cases of theft and possession of addictive substances.
The General Commissariat of National Police quoted Phnom Penh police minor crimes bureau chief Bun Satya as saying that the suspects were arrested between Friday and Sunday last week.
The first group consisted of seven people accused of six crimes, while the second group of three people were detained in relation to six more offences.
Satya said the first group’s crimes included five cases of theft with aggravating circumstances by using violence and one case of possession of an addictive substance.
Police confiscated two swords – one 55cm long, the other 41cm long – and a motorbike from the suspects. They are holding two of the victims’ motorbikes as evidence. The seven suspects range from 17 to 26 years old.
The second group, Satya said, comprised three suspects arrested for four cases of theft with aggravating circumstances by using violence, one case of theft by breaking a motorbike’s ignition and one case of possession of an addictive substance.
“Currently the minor crimes bureau is preparing the cases to be sent to Phnom Penh Municipal Court,” Satya said.
Phnom Penh Municipal Court spokesman Y Rin referred questions to the court’s prosecutors’ office spokesman Ly Sophana but Sophana could not be reached for comment.
Affiliated Network for Social Accountability executive director San Chey said most types of robbery had declined recently but bag snatching and theft along public roads were still common.
He said it requires both efficient law enforcement and the use of technology – such as the extensive installation of CCTV cameras in public locations – to combat the problem.
Chey said that if CCTV cameras were widespread, it would be easier for the authorities to investigate and find criminals, but he remained concerned that the authorities would still ignore complaints, rendering the technology superfluous.
“Lax law enforcement results in an abundance of thieves. If the authorities catch thieves and send them to court but the court releases them, the thieves go out and steal again causing the authorities to become demotivated to arrest people."
“But when we ask the court, it says the authorities don’t catch the thieves. So they blame each other, and this has happened too frequently,” Chey said.