Three Royal Cambodian Armed Forces soldiers and a woman were arrested Saturday night in Kompong Speu province for stealing garments from a shipping container en route to the Sihanoukville Autonomous Port, military police officials said yesterday.
The four suspects were arrested in Phnom Sruoch district’s Treng Trayoeng commune as they were unloading boxes of clothing from the shipping container into a Lexus SUV and a Toyota Corolla, said Men Siborn, provincial military police chief, adding that two AK-47 assault rifles were also confiscated from the vehicles.
The container of garments was bound for the U.S. and is estimated by military police to be worth in the region of $100,000.
“The police have arrested the four suspects, Sok Nao, 27; Kim Cheang, 25; Saing Saruos, 24; and Ms. Pov On, 41, who is a landlady,” Mr. Siborn said. “We have arrested and confiscated the goods and now we have sent the suspects to the national military police headquarters.”
Mr. Siborn added that provincial and military police had been investigating this case for about two weeks and declined to say which factory the clothing came from.
The clothing in the shipping container consisted of T-shirts and blue jeans, and the military police are still counting how many articles of clothing the quartet was attempting to steal, said Kheng Tito, national military police spokesman.
“We hear criticism from representatives of the factory in Cambodia, who hear complaints from abroad that they are losing the company’s clothing in our country,” Mr. Tito said. “The four suspects confessed that this is the third time between November and December that they have done this.”
The arrests come less than a month after five other people were arrested for stealing 8,000 articles of clothing from a shipping container, which was also on its way to Phnom Penh for export to the U.S.
Mr. Tito added that the suspects had confessed to stealing goods inside other containers in previous heists.
“It really impacts the reputation of Cambodia when we have suspects who steal the clothing of companies. We have to take action because it is illegal,” he said.
Ken Loo, secretary-general of the Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia, said manufacturers have highlighted the problem of container theft to the relevant authorities.
“We hope that the authorities would continue to step up the actions against these thieves,” Mr. Loo said. “It must be considered organized crime because it’s on a significant scale and obviously it requires a lot of planning and people.”
(Additional reporting by Dene-Hern Chen)