Sar Kheng: Crime Soared in Third Quarter

Deputy Prime Minister Sar Kheng told donors Wednesday that crime has increased at an alarming rate, with the number of offenses in the third quarter jump­ing 35 percent compared with the second quarter.

From June 1 to Sept 30, 1,536 crimes were reported, according to investigation records of the Mini­stry of Interior. Of those offenses, 694 were serious crimes.

That compares with 1,132 offenses in the period between March 1 and May 31. Of those, 603 were characterized as serious crimes.

National police investigated 56 percent of the cases in the third quarter and arrested 1,305 suspects, according to the report. Of those arrested, 190 were robbery suspects, 53 were homicide suspects and 53 were connected to kidnappings.

But Sar Kheng indicated it is all police can do to keep up with the crime wave.

“The lack of equipment, material and technology undermines the effectiveness of operation, since technology in society ex­ceeds by far what our police forc­es possess,” Sar Kheng said, in a possible pitch to donors for more assistance to fight crime.

Homicides accounted for 152 cases in the third quarter, with some relating to personal conflicts and grudges, while others involving hitmen, Sar Kheng said.

Armed robbery was the second most common type of crime, with 450 offenses, while kidnapping for ransom accounted for 27 cases.

Moderate offenses such as property theft and stealing cattle made up the largest portion of crime reported, with 537 cases.

To curb crime, the government plans to continue its crackdown on illegal weapons, Sar Kheng said. As of late Septem­ber, the number of confiscated weapons includes 16,412 short rifles, 11 mines and 345 hand grenades. An additional 5,655 rif­les were turned in voluntarily, as well as 190 hand grenades and 332 land mines.

The Ministry of Justice and the Ministry of Interior are in the pro­cess of drafting a new penal code and a subdecree limiting the num­ber of bodyguards for high-ranking national officials.

Those interviewed in Phnom Penh Wednesday said they worry about their safety and are concerned about being victims of crimes.

“Every minute, I am very worried about my safety,” said Sok Saphonnara, a 22-year-old student at the Institution of Manage­ment. “Every night, before locking the doors, we have to find out if anybody secretly entered our house, and I cannot sleep when I hear a sound at night.”

Chreong Phan, 65, said he is worried about his daughter’s safe­ty. “Robberies and kidnappings take place nearly every day,” he said.

Nouw Kim Hak, a 40-year-old father of four children, said he has been more concerned about crime since the factional fighting in 1997.

“People worry about their safety because of robberies, thefts, and kidnappings that have been taking place in Cambodia since the coup,” he said. (Additional reporting by Sokhan Serey Vethia)

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