PATTAYA – August 1, 2012 [PDN]; At 4:30 a.m., Pol. Capt. Somchai Chaikananukul, Deputy Inspector, Pattaya police station, Chonburi province, was notified of a burglary. A thief had broken into a foreign money exchange shop “Exchange Better Rate,”a sub-branch in Thip Plaza project near Soi 10, Pattaya beach, Moo 9 Tambon Nong Preu, Amphur Banglamung, Chonburi province.
He rushed to inspect with a radio and the police team to arrest the thief. Security guards had chased the thief who was running toward the Central Festival shopping center, and caught the thief near the Pattaya police station.
The suspect was identified as Mr. Somjit Vassana or “Pha,” age 41, at address 41 Moo 8 Tambon Klongkwai, Amphur Samkok, Pathumthani province. After searching his body, police found Thai and foreign money hidden in his pants pockets totaling more than 33,945 THB, which the police seized.
The defendant confessed that he committed the crime alone, but the police didn’t believe him and brought him back to the scene of the burglary. A security guard, Mr. Taksin Suwattana, 28, who had captured the thief with the help of three friends, inspected the front door of the shop and confirmed that it was still closed and secured safely.
The police contacted the shop owners, Mr. Narongrit Issaraprateeprat, 37, and Ms. Pornreudee Suwanjeanmanee, 34, to come and inspect for damage. An inspection revealed that the thief had entered the shop from the ceiling in the back of the shop.
He had ransacked the room where the cash was kept in the drawers, and took both Thai and foreign banknotes, leaving the coins behind. The shop had extensive damage to the furniture, cash drawers, and the ceiling.
During questioning, Mr. Somjit told police that he had spent three days canvassing the shop to plan his burglary. To break in, he went to the back of the shop and climbed to the roof, and then entered the shop through the ceiling. Since there was no light, he hurriedly looked for the money in the darkness. He then climbed out through the ceiling. But a security guard saw him, so he ran to the beach and took off his shirt to conceal his identity, but he was captured by three security guards.
Mr. Somjit said he stole the money because he had been released from jail a month ago for drug offenses, and had no place to live or work. He had been sleeping on the beach, and when he saw the foreign money exchange shop was closed at night, he decided to steal money in the shop to pay for his living expenses.
The shop owners, Mr. Narongrit and Ms. Pornreudee, said they had kept cash reserves in the shop because they did not think thieves would be daring enough to break in.
After checking, the shop owners informed police that the money found on Mr. Somjit was less than what had been taken in the burglary. However they said the missing amount was relatively small, and they were mainly happy that the thief was caught.
The police initially charged Mr. Somjit with “stealing property at night by destroying a barrier” and sent him to Pol. Maj. Kreangkraivuth Buakla, investigation officer, to prosecute according to the law.