Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Who is to Blame for the Crime at Bangkok Airport? Foreigners, Of Course


Foreign thieves target travellers

Police urge passengers to be careful with baggage after surge in thefts

Police yesterday warned passengers at Suvarnab-humi Airport not to leave their baggage unattended as a motley group of thieves comprising mainly foreigners have been targeting travellers.

There have been Filipinos, Indonesians, Chinese, Laotians and Peruvians caught stealing at the airport, police said.

The tourist-service unit at the airport received 415 theft reports from tourists since the airport began full commercial services in late September.

Reported thefts at Suvarnabhumi had climbed from just nine in September to 54 in October, 72 in November, 101 in December and 114 in January.

Of these, 152 concerned items that went missing at the airport, 152 were items lost on board flights and 101 involved possessions going missing outside the terminal buildings.

"Keep an eye on your belongings and avoid putting cash or credit cards in your baggage," Lt-Colonel Thammawat Hirunyalekha of the airport's tourist centre said yesterday.

He said police recently arrested a Laotian who had confessed that he would spend nights inside the terminal watching out for unattended bags.

"When we searched his Bangkok apartment, we found many travellers' bags, digital cameras and notebook computers," Thammawat said.

There were Filipino, Indonesian, Chinese and Peruvian thieves in the airport too, Thammawat said.

He said Chinese thieves usually pick-pocketed while criminals of other nationality tended to mingle with crowds waiting to check in and snatched unguarded bags.

"These thieves usually target Japanese tourists because they often keep cash and credit cards in their unattended bags," Thammawat said.

He said the Chinese thieves appeared to work as a gang because when they were caught, they would be bailed fast. "We sometimes arrest people twice at the airport after they have sneaked back to China and changed their names before returning," he said.

Lt-Colonel Pakapong Sai-ubon, of the Police Immigration Bureau, said some criminals flew into the airport purely to steal valuables from other passengers.

"They usually fly from trading cities like Hong Kong and grab the bags of their targets," he said.

Pol Lt-Colonel Satit Prom-utai of the Tourism Division hoped the Immigration Bureau would blacklist foreign thieves caught at the airport.

"We will ask the Immigration Bureau to blacklist them," he said.

Thammawat said that according to passenger complaints, some items were also stolen from luggage after it had been checked in. Complaints have become less frequent, however, since the Airports of Thailand stepped up safety measures along the baggage-belt zones.

Suvarnabhumi Airport director Serirat Prasutanont said the airport was working closely with police in a bid to ensure safety.

"We will add more security cameras," he said.

What is interesting about this report is that if you break down the statistics, the crime is not that bad. It is only three incidents a day out of of hundreds of thousand of people coming through the airport.

But those figures also make me suspicious, because that means that foreign crime gangs are setting up just to get three hits a day. Really? Plus, what about all the Thai criminals who aren't mentioned at all? Of course, Thais would never rip off tourists. OK, you can stop laughing now.

There is no way Chinese would fly back and forth from China to rob tourists in Thailand at the airport. I mean, that is just stupid. There must be a lot more crime that is being underreported or the numbers in this story are flawed.


Patiwat said...

Surprising. I thought they would try to blame it on Thaksin...

fall said...

Old news repackage.
The problem existed at Don Muang airport, unresolve. It would be pure ignorance to say it would not be the same at Suvarnabhumi.

Anonymous said...

I read about this in the Nation this morning and couldnt help wondering if the sunject would have been mentioned at all if they werre Thai gangs, as they usually are in Thailand. Of course the allegations made are not even partly substantiated. As usual. Just another swipe at the wicked foreigners come to give the angelic Thais a bad name. Time to stop laughing now.

Anonymous said...

Says a lot about the effectiveness of security and police I suspect. Nobody noticed the Laotian kamoey was staying at the airport for nights on end...

Bangkok Pundit said...

I actually think the article is generally correct.

At Don Muang, it was the Peruvians who were very big a few years ago in the public areas. A number of items are stolen beyond customs on departure or before customs on arrival so it is not surprising that it is non-Thais. Lets be honest here, not all Thai thieves are that smart and would be willing to pay for a ticket. The probably wouldn't get a visa for the country they are going to either.

It is Thais that are involved in the theft after bags have been checked in. The article doesn't really mention this. It is also primarily Thais who are behind thefts at the weekend market and bag snatches.

Fonzi said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

My bag was tampered with after check-in on the 7th Febrary 2007 at the airport. Valuables taken. Sad very sad, we ask ourselves for a grand airport like this what security do they have.Who do u call and report this for further action.

Anonymous said...

What next drugs being placed in our luggage and being blamed for it.