At one point, Moeng Sary (also known as Krou Meng) was a teacher in Cambodia. He taught pupils at Wat Prey Malou primary school in the Kampong Trabek district of Prey Veng. However, that life is far behind him, as he sits in jail for leading a group of bandits in a spree of close to 40 robberies in the provinces of Prey Veng and Svay Rieng. He was arrested on Sunday afternoon on charges of “theft with aggravating circumstances and using a weapon without permission.” He spent six years on the run from the authorities.
Sary, 62, left his teaching career because it paid too little, according to the Cambodia Daily. “He is a former teacher, and I think he started robbing as it gave him much more money from his small teaching salary,” said Preah Sdech district police chief Chey Senghan. From his departure from education, he formed a gang with five others who–all armed with AK-47’s— would rob homes and businesses. Between 2008 and 2011, the crew pulled off 37 stick-ups. No one was ever seriously harmed during the robberies, but Sary and his crew had the area in a state of fear.
The last jacking pulled by Sary and company was in January 2011, when they hit a Prey Veng drink shop for $120,000 in cash and jewelry, according to the Khmer Times. “They entered the victims’ house while they (the victims) were eating their meal inside the house,” said Prey Veng penal police officer Major Ly Bunrith. “After entering the house, two of six suspects pointed guns at the victims while the other four held and tied the victims. They beat the victims and forced them to tell them where they hid the money and jewelry.”
Days after that robbery, two of the suspects were arrested with two AK’s, a pistol and large sum of cash (the three others were arrested early last year). Based on the arrested robbers’ confessions, the authorities were able to identify Sary. The former teacher was almost arrested in 2014, but escaped. One of his cohorts was killed by police during that incident. By pure luck, Sary was seen working on a construction site in Phnom Penh on Sunday during a routine patrol. On Monday, he was charged in Prey Veng Provincial Court and hauled off to jail.
Of Sary’s transition from school teacher to jack artist, Chief Senghan said, “His idea was almost childish—like that of a teenager.”