EIGHT robbers stole $310,000 in payroll receipts from the Won Rex garment factory
on September 9. Seven of the suspects escaped, police said. One of the thieves was
killed in a shoot-out with security guards. One guard was shot dead and another seriously
Municipal police deputy commissioner Muong Khim said it was the biggest robbery of
its kind in Cambodia.
"These kind of heists have happened before, but previous robbers only stole
$50,000 or $60,000," he said. "In my experience, we have tried to crack
down on some of those crimes."
Police said it is difficult to confront or hunt down the criminals as they are usually
heavily armed. The robbers in the most recent incident carried AK-47 assault rifles
and K-59 pistols.
The heist occurred near the garment factory in Dangkao district about 10 km from
Phnom Penh. The money was being transported in a car carrying four guards and an
accountant from the First Commercial Bank. The money was to pay salaries for the
factory's 3, 800 workers.
At 1:20 pm, eight gunmen waiting by the factory crashed their Camry into the vehicle
that was transporting the cash. One of the robbers jumped from the car and fired
his gun at the security guards. Bou Pheap, one of the guards in the car, was shot
in the chest. The bullet collided with a phone in his front pocket.
"My Nokia suffered instead of me," he said. "I'm so happy, it's like
I was born again."
He returned fire at his assailants until running out of ammunition and escaped.
Two more people in the car, including the accountant, were able to hide inside the
Two security guards in the car tried to escape, but were shot. One, Som Sothyvuth,
an off-duty Flying Tiger police officer, was killed. Lim Hong, the other, was seriously
Security firms consider Cambodia one of the most dangerous countries in which to
offer "cash and transit services", said Chris Berger, country director
of the security firm MPA. The country's lax law enforcement and proliferation of
heavy weaponry makes it an easy target for criminals.
Since March there have been five attempts at armed robbery. Three of them were successful.
In a robbery in April, several people were killed. MPA recently purchased a five-ton
armored vehicle to offer high-security transport services. Companies have reportedly
been clamoring to use it.
Chea Vichea, president of Free Trade Union of Workers of the Kingdom of Cambodia,
said this type of robbery has damaged business here.
Ker Soksidney, a consultant with the Ministry of Social Affairs, said: "I cannot
say how many of these problems are solved by the police. We are afraid of losing
investors if Cambodia has the problems like this."