Couple Charged for Stealing, Selling Crocodiles

The Siem Reap Provincial Court on Sunday charged a man and his wife with theft for stealing more than 500 baby crocodiles from a crocodile farm in Siem Reap City earlier this month and selling them for a total of $5,000, which they used to buy a motorbike and jewelry, police said.

Heav Savoeut and his wife, Horm Hong, both 28, were arrested on Saturday after the owner of the farm in the city’s Sala Kamroeuk commune reported that Mr. Savoeut, a laborer at the farm, had stolen more than 500 baby crocodiles, according to Phing Chendareth, chief of the provincial police’s serious crime bureau.

“The farm’s owner filed a complaint accusing his worker of stealing 557 baby crocodiles from his farm. But the suspect said that he stole…only 510 baby crocodiles over three separate occasions this month,” he said, adding that the complaint was filed on July 21.

Mr. Chendareth said the couple was arrested at their rented home in Sala Kamroeuk commune, where police confiscated $1,000 in cash, along with jewelry and a Honda motorbike the couple had purchased immediately after selling the reptiles.

“His wife took the baby crocodiles to a dealer in Prasat Bakorng district and sold them for $10 per crocodile,” he said.

“The suspect [Mr. Savoeut] was able to steal the baby crocodiles because he stayed at the farm overnight and so had an easy opportunity to remove them.”

Mr. Chendareth said 10 of the animals died en route to the dealer in Prasat Bakorng, but that police recovered the remaining 500. He said the dealer, whom he declined to name, had since fled, but that police were continuing to search for him.

On Sunday, he added, the couple was sent to the Siem Reap Provincial Court, where Mr. Savoeut was charged with theft and Ms. Hong as his accomplice.

“Investigating Judge Lim Sokuntheara charged them yesterday. We have already sent them to pretrial detention at the provincial prison,” he said.

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