Police in Siem Reap province yesterday arrested 20 boys and young men pretending to be Buddhist monks in order to beg for money.
Huot Sothy, deputy provincial police chief overseeing criminal offences, said officers had followed the group for a while before getting permission to crack down on them.
The group of boys and young men – between the ages of 13 and 20 – had been in Siem Reap for about a month, he added. One of them was “very young” and was sent to an NGO that deals with children.
“They were from Kampong Speu, Prey Veng, Takeo and Banteay Meanchey,” he said. “They slept in a guesthouse and begged for money from the public. We followed them since long ago, and just got permission to arrest them [yesterday] in markets and other public places.”
Authorities will question the group before deciding whether to send them to court. Police don’t yet know if there’s someone behind the group. Two of the 20 also tested positive for drugs, Sothy added.
“We don’t know how much [money] they collected, but I don’t think [it was] much because we found only small money on them.”