Suspect in Custody, Six On Run After Jeans Heist

Phnom Penh Municipal Police arrested three men on Sunday for their suspected involvement in the theft of 2,500 pairs of Levi’s jeans—stolen after security guards had sleeping pills put in their drinks—from a garment factory in Phnom Penh’s Russei Keo district early Saturday morning, police said Monday.

The Sothy, 42, remained in custody at the Phnom Penh police headquarters Monday after police raided his rented home in Tuol Kok district at about 8:30 p.m. He was found packing the jeans into boxes along with Kou Keoun, 49, and Koeun Chetra, 43, who were also arrested but later released, said Tey Visal, deputy municipal chief of serious crimes.

“We released Kou Koeun and Koeun Chetra because they were not involved in the crime because they were just hired to package the jeans,” Mr. Visal said.

Another six men, guards at the Roo Hsing Garment Co. factory in Russei Keo district suspected of collaborating in the heist, remain at large, he added.

“Mr. The Sothy bought jeans and received the stolen goods from the thieves…he was involved with the six perpetrators who are still at large,” Mr. Visal said, adding that a total of 7,167 pairs of jeans were confiscated from Mr. Sothy’s home.

According to a complaint filed by the factory, six guards working for the EPS security firm put sleeping pills in the drinks of four fellow guards before stealing the load of jeans, worth about $100,000, at 2:30 a.m. Saturday morning.

Commune police chief Huy Hean declined to comment on the case as the investigation is ongoing.

In December, two transport company employees were arrested after allegedly stealing garments worth thousands of dollars from trucks en route from Phnom Penh to Sihanoukville that were destined for Europe.

And two years before that, in December 2012, two port workers and a military police officer were charged with stealing more than 8,000 pieces of clothing from a shipping container being transported to the Phnom Penh Autonomous Port.

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