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Top cop fed up with string of robberies

Shattered glass lay throughout a cabinet at a Pursat province gold shop
Shattered glass lay throughout a cabinet at a Pursat province gold shop after it was targeted by robbers on Saturday. PHOTO SUPPLIED

Top cop fed up with string of robberies

Police officers who fail to prevent armed robberies on their beat will need to look for a new job, Cambodia’s top police officer has said.

The warning from National Police chief Neth Savoeun, which was published on the National Police website on Sunday, came amid plans to ramp up patrols at high-value targets, such as jewellery shops, following a series of violent robberies in recent weeks.

The police chief issued the order for an around-the-clock police presence at every market and town centre, as well as other potential targets, such as currency exchange businesses.

Eventually, he added, provincial police chiefs would have to prepare their own strategies for combating armed robberies.

“Every provincial and district police chief is responsible for all locations and sites [in their jurisdiction], and can be reviewed and sacked if they are found to have been negligent to the point that armed robberies have happened,” he said.

On Saturday night, police questioned three men over a spate of brazen armed robberies in Pursat province, where a gang of thieves made off with about $180,000 of gold and platinum, according to the provincial chief of serious organised crime.

Officials were unavailable to comment on the case yesterday.

The recent gold robbery was the second high-profile heist this month alone. On March 9 a group of six men armed with AK-47s stormed a jewellery shop in Kampong Thom province, making off with $250,000 worth of gold, platinum and cash.

Kirt Chantharith, spokesman for the National Police, did not respond to requests for comment.

Serious crime rates rose slightly last year, up 4 per cent compared to 2013, with minor crimes also up by 9 per cent, according to Ministry of Interior data released in February.

Yong Kim Eng, president of the Civic Centre for Development and Peace, said the blame for rising crime rates should lie with the government. “If the officers enforced the law properly, those things wouldn’t happen in our society”.

Am Sam Ath, senior investigator for rights group Licadho, urged the authorities to “enforce the laws appropriately and set a good example for people”.

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