Man Detained for Allegedly Stopping SUV, Stealing Bag

A 33-year-old Colombian man remained in detention on Thursday after being accused of stabbing the back tire of an SUV with a large metal spike in order to stop the driv­er, who had just left a Phnom Penh money exchange kiosk, police said.

The man, Jose Alonso, grabbed the driver’s bag from the front passenger seat and fled the scene with an accomplice on a Honda Click motorbike on Wednesday afternoon, but got caught in heavy traffic, and an angry crowd quickly surrounded them, according to Kann Vannak, police chief of Daun Penh district’s Srah Chak commune.

The pair had been emboldened to steal the driver’s bag after seeing the owner leave a money-exchange kiosk near O’Russei market, Mr. Vannak said.

“Both suspects punctured the SUV’s tire for the purpose of stopping the car so they would have a chance to steal the bag,” he said.

When the owner of the Toyota For­tun­er stopped to check the tire, Mr. Alonso opened the unlocked door, grabbed the bag and attempted to flee, he said.   

Mr. Alonso was caught by the crowd, but the other man fled from the scene with the bag and was still being sought by police, he said.

The SUV owner, whom police declined to identify, had not placed any cash in the bag and did not lose anything valuable, he said.

Eyewitness Hel Vey, 35, a security guard at a nearby cafe, said the suspected thieves crashed their motorbike while attempting to flee, giving passersby an opportunity to grab one of the men.

Sok Pheap, 35, a security guard at a bakery near the kiosk, said he caught the tail-end of the commotion. “When I arrived, I saw one man hiding himself under the car and another one running toward the hospital to escape,” he said.

Khun Nguon, deputy district police chief, said he could not provide any additional details as police were still compiling evidence to send to the court.

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