Water Festival Crime, Accidents Decrease This Year

Crime and traffic accidents in Phnom Penh appear to have decreased during this year’s Water Festival compared with last year, police said.

In the first two days of the festival, Phnom Penh municipal police arrested just four pickpockets and thieves in the pedestrian area on the riverside and about six bag snatchers, municipal police chief Touch Naruth said.

“It’s no big deal yet, we just arrested some pickpockets and snatchers,” he said, adding that the numbers were lower than last year’s but declined to give exact figures.

Ten thousand police and military police were working during the festival, which might have helped deter criminals, Touch Naruth added by telephone Thursday.

They included 353 police in Daun Penh district, who were posted 24 hours a day in seven positions throughout the district, Daun Penh police chief Yim Socheat said.

There, police also arrested five gang members for creating a public disturbance, Yim Socheat said. They were being kept at Daun Penh district police headquarters, he added by telephone Thursday.
“The crime has decreased from last year because security has been strengthened,” Yim Socheat said, but declined to provide last year’s statistics.

However, traffic and boat accidents still claimed lives.

Four people were killed in 18 traffic accidents reported in Phnom Penh in the first two days of the festival, municipal traffic police chief Tin Prasoer said.

He said he believed it was fewer than last year, but he could not recall the exact figures for 2007.
Tin Prasoer said the most common causes of accidents were speeding in the daytime and drunk driving at night, when about 20 percent of accidents occurred.

There were also three boating accidents-one each on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday-resulting in one death, said Him Yan, deputy municipal police chief in charge of public order.

Last year, a Singaporean racing boat had capsized, killing five men on board.

Him Yan estimated the numbers of visitors at about 2 million Tuesday, 2.5 million Wednesday and 3 million Thursday.

“This year, the number of visitors has increased 20 percent compared to last year,” he said by telephone Thursday.

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