Crime is up around Phnom Penh’s riverside area, according to commune police and people working in the city’s main tourist area.
Phsar Kandal I commune police chief Mok Sopha said late-night street robbery along the riverside boomed shortly after a construction barrier was removed early last week, allowing easier access to the poorly lit riverfront gardens.
At about 2 am on Sept 25, police arrested a suspected thief at Street 136, Mok Sopha said.
“A 20-year-old gangster used a sword to try and chop up a tourist for 5,000 riel,” he said.
Most riverfront robberies occur on Sisowath Quay between streets 130 and 144, Mok Sopha said, adding that the commune had assigned plainclothes police to patrol the riverfront from 7 pm to 3 am nightly.
Keo Sokchea, 20, a night security guard for a travel agency on Sisowath Quay, said he had seen little evidence of increased police presence.
“Robberies take place every few days here,” he said.
According to Kek Sokchea, at about 3 am Tuesday, three thieves with swords took cell phones and a necklace from a couple sitting on the riverbank promenade, and on Wednesday at about 9 pm, two groups of gangsters fought in the street.
“There were no police to take any action,” he said.
Hak Lee, a tuk-tuk driver, agreed.
“In the past week or two there have been problems,” he said. “Around midnight, playboys on drugs come out along the gardens.”
“You should come here at night to see how anarchic this area is,” said another tuk-tuk driver, Chea Vanno, 32.
“After 10 pm, standing alone on the riverbank is very dangerous.”
Municipal and district police, however, denied that crime is a problem in the riverside area.
“There were only two cases of robbery in the past two weeks,” municipality police chief Touch Naruth said. “We don’t want robberies to happen in this tourist area.”