Unofficial reports of bag snatching in Siem Reap, especially in the Wat Bo Rd area, are increasing alarmingly, according to anecdotal reports.
But police say that they believe 75 per cent of cases brought to their attention recently were bogus insurance claims.
Police went so far as to accuse some people of making claims as “liars.”
Warnings on travel forums report numerous bag-snatchings in downtown Siem Reap, and indicate that there seems to be a “spate of bag-snatching” in Siem Reap.
A backpacker named Beebo said on the Thorn Tree Travel Forum page that the thieves are guys on motorcycles targeting lone female tourists walking home at nighttime: “Thieves are using motorcycle to get around, targeting single females at night in dark streets, and both sides of the river.”
Rachel Band, the general manager of Rosy Guesthouse in Siem Reap Rachel Band told Insider that one of her guests had been targeted a few weeks ago.
“We did have a guest who had her bag snatched by two people on a motorbike while she was walking back from the Old Market with her friend,” she said.
Rachel added that that woman tried to file a report to the tourist police the next day but they would not give her a copy of the report. She said, “I am not sure of the exact reason why no report could be given, but this would have made an insurance claim very difficult for the tourist.”
Meas Vito, an official of the Tourist Police Unit in Siem Reap said that complaints of bag snatching increased since the beginning of May, and there have been four cases.
But police have only filed a report about one case.
Meas Vito said, “After investigation and questioning them, three of them are liars because they told police they made the allegation to just make an insurance claim even though they didn’t get snatched.”
Thus they could not be given a police report, he said, adding, “What we need is proof or an eyewitness, but they didn’t have either.”
He added that after Tourist Police refused to file a report, most of the complainants felt angry and tried to spread bad news about the police and bag snatching.
“We heard what they have said. We cannot stop them, but the truth is the truth,” he said.
He also claims that some of the obviously increased reports in May and June are due to carelessness, with people often losing their own bags.
He cautioned, “Prevention is always better than cure.”
But Soun San, Siem Reap district police chief told Siem Reap Insider that police are still working on this issue to reduce the cases of bag snatching.
“As I remember at the end of April we arrested a lady boy after allegedly snatching a foreigner’s bag in Siem Reap town,” he added. “The victim was leaving a minimart when the group grabbed his bag and police appeared on the scene when he shouted for help.”