Fourth Man Arrested Over Major Armed Robbery in B’bang

Police in three provinces cooperated to track down the fourth of five suspects believed to be responsible for the armed robbery of a jewelry store owner in Battambang City earlier this month, arresting the man on his brother’s property in Kompong Thom province in the early hours of Thursday.

The suspect, Kuch Ra, 32, was arrested at about 1:30 a.m. while sleeping in a hut on his younger brother’s farm in Kompong Thom’s Baray district, having traveled there from Phnom Penh the day before, Eng Sorphea, chief of the municipal police’s serious crimes bureau, said on Friday.

Mr. Ra’s brother, Kuch Virak, who is around the same age, was also apprehended and is being treated as an accomplice to the December 12 robbery, which saw five men armed with AK-47s make off with about $300,000 worth of gold and cash.

“We arrested the suspects while they were in a deep sleep at his hut on the rice field,” Mr. Sorphea said, adding that both brothers were handed over to Battambang provincial police.

Ke Khannara, a deputy provincial police chief in Kompong Thom, said his forces were tipped off to Mr. Ra’s arrival in the prov­ince by authorities in Phnom Penh, where the suspect has a rented house that he likely fled to after the heist.

He said his officers were in­formed that Mr. Ra would be arriving at his brother’s farm in Triel commune by taxi on Wednes­day morning, and located the taxi driv­er that afternoon using his license plate number.

The driver confirmed that he had dropped off Mr. Ra, and said the suspect had re­quested to stop along the way to purchase two hammocks.

“Before arresting the suspect, our police disguised themselves as farmers and searched the hut on the rice field,” he said, explaining that the 10 undercover officers inspected the structure while about 50 other Phnom Penh and provincial officers surrounded the area throughout the afternoon and evening.

Inside the hut, he said, police found two new hammocks and one new occupant.

Deputy Battambang provincial police chief Chet Vanny said his officers took custody of Mr. Ra and Mr. Virak on Friday afternoon and would send them to the provincial court to be charged on Saturday.

He confirmed that three other primary suspects in the robbery had already been jailed on charges of armed robbery and that police had identified the fifth, but said he could not give the man’s name because the investigation was ongoing.

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