Caution Urged After Recent Robbery Spate

Police and security officials on Tuesday advised foreigners to exercise common sense after at least six foreigners have been robbed at gunpoint since Thurs­day.  

All the robberies have occur­red at night in central Phnom Penh. Only one, apparently, has been reported to authorities.

“Robberies are a talked-about event at the moment,” said An­thony Alderson, the general manager of the Foreign Corre­spon­dents Club of Cambodia, a riverfront restaurant that attracts many visitors after dark. “But it’s hard to say how widespread it is or if it’s hurting business.”

Police and Western security officials said Tuesday there is no increase in crime against foreigners.

Up to 10 muggings of foreigners per week is considered normal in Phnom Penh, said a West­ern security adviser who monitors these figures.

Municipal police in local district offices in the central part of the city said Tuesday that crime against foreigners has dropped since a short spree was reported in October.

Overall, violent crime is slightly up this year from previous years, figures from the Phnom Penh municipality show. There have been several crime sprees this year against foreigners, who are sometimes targeted for muggings and kidnappings.

On Thursday at 9:30 pm, two assailants on a motorbike hit a 34-year-old British researcher over the head with a gun on Street 178 near the riverfront in Don Penh district. The two assailants, men in their late 20s, forced the moto-taxi Michael Watts was riding to stop and took about $30 and his bag, the victim said.

Several other people reported being followed home from one of the city’s nightclubs, the Casa disco, early Sunday morning. One American couple were robbed of personal items of little value when they arrived at their villa on Street 334.

At around 2:30 am Sunday two people, an English citizen and an Australian citizen, on separate motos were pulled over near the Hotel Le Royal in Don Penh district, one of the victims said. Their assailants were two men on a moto armed with a gun. One of the victims, an Australian chef who calls himself Peewee, said he and his friend were intoxicated and on their way home from Martini’s bar. They lost several dollars.

“You can’t blame them,” he said. “It’s not easy right now.’’

Additionally, an Englishman was robbed on Monivong Boulevard early Saturday morning, his friends said.

Security advisers warned victims to exercise common sense: Avoid going out late at night, don’t carry large amounts of valuables and watch out for motos following you home. If followed, try to get to an area with other people as soon as possible, advisers recommended. If robbed at gunpoint, they say to simply surrender your valuables.

(Additional reporting by Mhari Saito)

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