Phnom Penh authorities are blaming World Cup fever and gambling for a recent crime wave that has left at least two men dead, one injured and a young boy kidnapped.
“Since there has been the betting on World Cup, crimes seems to have increased. Robberies happen every night, and there’s been a kidnapping,” Map Sarin, deputy governor of Phnom Penh, said at City Hall’s weekly Monday meeting. “Police seem not to have been cracking down on it.”
Police blamed the betting on World Cup matches in Korea and Japan for the increase, but said they are unable to stop people who lose money gambling from committing these crimes.
“How can we do it?” a municipal official asked. “Because the gambling is legal now. There is a gambling company here. People lost a lot of money with it.”
The 5-year-old son of a hotel owner in Chamkar Mon district was taken by armed men Friday from his kindergarten classroom. The family has so far declined police help, fearing for the child’s safety, officials said. Phnom Penh Deputy Police Chief Muong Khim would not comment specifically on the case, but said it was the result of sports gambling.
“Kidnapping has not happened for a long time, and it reoccurs [now],” Map Sarin said. “I am concerned the crime will increase [even] more.”
At least two men have died since Thursday in gambling-related theft attempts, and another man was injured, police said. One man was shot and killed Saturday night in a failed motorcycle robbery on Monivong Boulevard; another died in Tuol Kok Thursday evening near Phsar Daum Kor, police said Monday.
Tuol Kok District Police Chief Kim Hourn said Monday that sports gambling “losers” had caused that shooting and another shooting injury in his district.
And he expected more. “Crime will increase at the end of the sports season,” Kim Hourn said.“My police will have a headache then.”
The World Cup championship game is Sunday.