B’bang Fortuneteller Tied Up, Beaten in Robbery

Police in Battambang province said they are searching for three men who broke into a wealthy fortuneteller’s home, beat him, restrained him and his wife and made away with gold, diamonds and around $17,000 in cash in the early hours of on Monday morning.

Tom Socheat, police chief in Bavel district’s Khnach Romeas commune, said three men—armed with handguns, an AK-47 and iron poles—used a ladder to climb over a fence surrounding the large home owned by Sela Saokong, 61, a well-known fortuneteller, before breaking a window and entering the house just after midnight.

“The robbers came into the house from the back of the house by crossing a high fence,” Mr. Socheat said.

“The victim, [his wife Heng] Nakry, went to the bathroom at about midnight, then the robbers pointed the handgun and the AK-47 gun at her,” he said.

The three men then proceeded to attack Mr. Saokong with an iron pole, demanding the keys to the cabinet where the couple kept valuables. Once he handed the keys to the robbers, they bound the couple’s hands and legs together with wire and taped their mouths shut, before fleeing with gold and diamonds worth around $3,000 and about $17,000 in cash.

The married couple were left tied up for around six hours, until Ms. Nakry managed to untie herself and her husband and alert customers who were queued outside the house’s front gate to have their fortunes told, said district police chief Iep Tith.

Mr. Tith said he suspected the robbers targeted Mr. Saokong’s house due to his local renown as a successful and wealthy clairvoyant.

“The robbers knew the victim had lots of money because he is a famous fortuneteller…. That’s why they came to rob the old people,” Mr. Tith said.

The robbery comes amid a recent spate of violent armed robberies across the country. Last month, Interior Minister Sar Kheng issued a warning to provincial police chiefs in Battambang, Kandal and Pursat, demanding they track down the perpetrators of violent crimes or face demotion.

Chet Vanny, deputy provincial police chief, said his officers were investigating the latest case, but that the identities of the robbers remained unknown.

“Police are investigating this robbery and are also trying to figure out the cause and whether previous robberies were committed by the same group,” he said.

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