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A bit of good ‘old-fashioned’ police work – along with a large slice of good luck – led to the arrest of 2 serial thieves in Maenam on the 28th of June.
After the report of a burglary in a Maenam resort early yesterday afternoon, during which a laptop and cash was stolen from one of the resort’s villas, Maenam police wondered if it was linked in some way to another similar burglary reported in the Lamai area.
A few hours of studying CCTV footage from the Lamai incident eventually yielded pictures of the possible culprits. When these pictures were shown to the resort owner and victims involved in the Maenam incident, all three confirmed that they had seen the same two men just prior to discovering the burglary. In fact, the Maenam victims were actually held in conversation by one of the men… possibly as a way of keeping them ‘occupied’ and out of their villa, whilst the other carried out the robbery without fear of discovery.
On the premise that the thieves may still be lurking about in the Maenam area, police from the Maenam station decided to take a ride around, on the off-chance of actually bumping into them.
And… rather fortuitously, that is exactly what happened.
Whilst doing some old-fashioned police patrolling, 2 of the Maenam police spotted the 2 men on a motorbike just in front of Wat Phukatong, Soi 4, Maenam, and stopped them.
A basic search discovered a large amount of cash, a laptop computer, and – among other various items – a large ‘Phillips’ screwdriver – which matched-up as a pair with a large flat-bladed screwdriver left at the scene of the Maenam burglary (used to break open a floor safe in the villa).
The men were then taken to Maenam police station for questioning, where they proceeded to weave a web of lies in their attempts to both explain the large amount of cash they had, and, obviously, confuse police.
Initially both men admitted to being Algerian citizens, and that they had travelled from Bangkok to Samui only 3 days earlier. However, police efforts to confirm their identities proved very difficult, with one of the men having no ID on him at all, and the other carrying a passport which may, or may not, have been his.
Both men said they had earlier checked out of a rented room in Bang Rak, and led police on a merry dance attempting to pinpoint exactly where the room was. Eventually police managed to contact the motorbike rental company in Chawaeng, which yielded details of the room rented, and subsequently vacated earlier, by the 2 men.
The room was indeed empty.
When asked where they had rented after vacating the Bang Rak room, both men said that they hadn’t as yet decided, and were ‘walking around to look for a room’. The fact that neither man had any clothes, wallets, or other personal belongings on their person when they were arrested led police to believe that they were lying, and had indeed already rented alternative accommodation, but that the men were reluctant to disclose details due to the fact that they probably had other stolen goods stored there.
During their questioning, it became obvious that their involvement with thieving from resorts was a lot bigger than initially thought. It is now thought that the men were involved in as many as 20 incidents of burglary on the island.
One of the men ‘admitted’ that he had entered the country illegally from Malaysia, after meeting a fellow Algerian who helped him cross into Thailand, without a valid passport, after paying Thai border guards 4,000 baht. This has not been confirmed, and may well be simply one of the many lies spun during questioning to further confuse police about his true identity.
One of the items found in their possession was door key with a fairly non-descript fob. Initially police were told it belonged to their apartment ‘in Bangkok’… however, police were far from convinced of that, and set about trying to discover if it belonged to a hotel or resort on the island.
After some hours of questioning, and realizing that police were getting closer to discovering where that key actually belonged, the men finally admitted that they had indeed rented further accommodation for that night. They then led police to a guest house close to Chawaeng police station.
A brief search of their room brought to light numerous i-phones and other mobile phones, laptop computers and i-pads, and other sundry spoils of their illicit activities.
Hopefully most of their ill-gotten gains will eventually be returned to their rightful owners. It is thought that the total value of the property stolen could well exceed 1 million baht.
Although now held in Nathon police headquarters, the actual identities of both men are still under some question. Further detailed searches turned-up a French ID card with a photograph that may (or may not!) be one of the men arrested, but with a different name to the one given by him during questioning… and it appears that the passport found in the possession of the other thief could well be a ‘false passport’.Whatever their nationalities and/or names, there is little doubt that these two individuals will be spending a lot longer in Thailand than they probably initially intended, and that it will most certainly not be in a room with air-con, fridge, and flat-screen TV!