The Phnom Penh Municipal Police has called on people to take measures to prevent becoming victims of “bag-snatching” after a man was killed in such an incident in the capital on Saturday.
A married couple was the target of a bag snatch in Tonle Bassac commune, with the man suffering fatal head injuries after being forced off his motorcycle while pursuing the thieves. He became the latest death resulting from such crimes.
A relative said the 34-year-old died after he and his wife gave chase after having their bag stolen while riding their motorcycle on Saturday morning.
Two people who offered to help the couple apprehend the robbers instead veered in front of the victims, forcing them to fall from their motorcycle. The man died on the spot from serious head injuries.
The victim, identified as Choy Aing, and his 30-year-old wife both hailed from Prey Veng province and were flower sellers who lived in Phnom Penh’s Chamkarmon district.
Boeung Keng Kang I commune police chief Kol Sophat said authorities are investigating the case.
Phnom Penh Municipal Police Chief Sar Thet said the authorities were committed to tackling bag-snatching.
“We are taking tough measures to reduce the cases. We have clear measures to prevent bag-snatching,” he said.
He said apart from police efforts, people also had to be vigilant and take steps to avoid such incidents. He called on people to avoid wearing jewellery and carrying bags and purses on the street.
“Authorities cannot be everywhere because we have limited forces. People need to be careful and take steps. They can’t depend solely on the authorities,” he said.
Thet said that bag-snatchers are often recidivists who have been released from prison or repeat offenders yet to be caught.
“There are 100 people per month [released from the prison] who are mostly bag-snatchers returning to the streets again,” he said.
He said after his two months’ tenure as chief of Phnom Penh Municipal Police, two or three snatchers were caught every day.
Government spokesman Phay Siphan said bag-snatching was not just a Cambodian problem as it occurred in other countries.
He said it happened in the Kingdom because the preventative measures were not yet fully effective.
“We can arrest them, but we do not know how to make them stop bag-snatching. The law has to be enforced and the punishment has to be increased in order to deter people,” he said.