Police Issue Security Warning to Festival Goers


Vientiane Public Security Headquarters is warning That Luang festival goers to take precautions regarding their safety and security and to be on the lookout for pickpockets and bag snatchers.

This year’s festival runs from November 8-14 and Vientiane police are cautioning the public to take good care of their possessions to deter thieves. A senior official at the Vientiane Public Security Headquarters, Major Khamko Pathabchai, told Vientiane Times on Monday that during this year’s event they will station 2,487 police, soldiers and students around the festival and Lao-ITECC areas to ward off criminals and prevent antisocial behaviour.

Police said most of the petty criminals picked up in previous years were pickpockets and bag snatchers who worked in teams and appeared to be well prepared. However, police are planning to have a strong presence at this year’s festival and will be deployed at 20 stations around the capital.

The Vientiane Traffic Police Department under the Ministry of Public Security will today outline additional security measures for the That Luang Festival as well as parking options.

According to a report from police headquarters, 21 crimes were reported during last year’s festival from November 19-25. Thirteen cases of pickpocketing were recorded, along with five cases of bag snatching, and one case each of disturbing the peace, obscenity, and general theft.

The thefts involved losses of more than 15 million kip and additional items, and police arrested two suspects.

Every November, the colourful That Luang festival is staged to celebrate the stupa, which is the most revered in Laos. This year’s festivities are extra special as they mark the stupa’s 450th anniversary. People engage in many traditional activities and ritual ceremonies to pay homage to the stupa.

These include a wax castle’ procession, almsgiving, a game of traditional Lao hockey, and candlelit processions, to honour both the stupa and King Xaysetthathirath.

Celebrations last for at least three days and the culmination always falls on the 15th full moon day of the 11th lunar month, which this year is November 14. The wax castle procession is the most colourful activity and always attracts large crowds.


Source: Vientiane Times