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During his good times, 40-year-old Wasan Siakson earned more than 150,000 baht a day using the simplest of tools.
Wasan Siakson is caught on camera as he uses a stolen ATM card to withdraw money from a victim’s account at a hypermarket in Chiang Mai. PHOTO COURTESY OF ROYAL THAI POLICE OFFICE
Toothpick thief is caught
During his good times, 40-year-old Wasan Siakson earned more than 150,000 baht a day.
It was not from his restaurant in Koh Lanta, Krabi of his fish pond in Chiang Mai, however.
He had a much simpler way of earning money – stealing from ATM machines. His tools were simple too and extremely inexpensive.
Mr Wasan allegedly placed toothpicks in ATM card slots to trap the cards of people who tried to withdraw money from the machines.
Fooled into believing the ATMs had malfunctioned and seized their cards, the victims left the scene.
Mr Wasan, who always made sure that he was standing in the queue right behind the victims, allegedly peeked over the victims’ shoulders to obtain their PIN codes.
After they left, he would remove the toothpicks, take out the cards and use them to withdraw the victims’ money, police say.
Police now believe he stole millions of baht beginning way back in 1996. He was caught for the offence in 2000, and served three years in jail.
Upon his release, he allegedly returned to his old thieving ways.
The thief’s luck started to run out when a keen-eyed policeman learnt about his toothpick trick while watching the news at home one weekend.
Pol Col Uthen Nuiphin, who is deputy superintendent of Provincial Police Region 1, saw an item about theft complaints lodged by ATM users in Tak’s Mae Sot district.
He began searching for the man by contacting banks in Mae Sot, but he found many were reluctant to give information as they were worried that it might affect their reputation.
Pol Col Uthen decided to look for similar thefts in the central region, which, unlike Mae Sot, is under his jurisdiction.
He found two cases in Saraburi’s Wihan Daeng district where police told him Mr Wasan was a key suspect, and had sought a warrant for his arrest.
Within weeks, police had their man, arresting him at his fish pond in Chiang Mai.
Adapted from a story in Monday's Bangkok Post by Wassayos Ngamkham. You can find out more about his methods and how police caught him by reading the full, much longer story here: http://bit.ly/lDK5PG
withdraw – to take money out of a bank account ถอนเงินจากธนาคาร
hypermarket – a very large supermarket, usually built outside a town, that sells a wide range of goods ห้างสรรพสินค้า
toothpick – a short pointed piece of wood or plastic used for removing bits of food from between the teeth ไม้จิ้มฟัน
thief – someone who steals something. An instance of stealing something is called a theft ขโมย
pond – a small area of still water, especially one that is artificial บ่อน้ำ, สระน้ำ
simple – easy to understand; not complicated ง่าย,ไม่ยุ่งยาก, ไม่ซับซ้อน
inexpensive – not expensive
allegedly – claimed to have done something wrong, but not yet proven ที่กล่าวหา
slot – a long narrow opening, into which you put or fit something ช่องเปิดที่แคบยาว (สำหรับใส่เหรียญ, จดหมาย, etc.)
trap – to catch or keep something in a place and prevent it from escaping กับ, กับดัก
fool – to trick somebody into believing something that is not true หลอกลวง, ลวงให้เข้าใจผิด
malfunction – a failure to work or operate correctly ทำงานผิดปกติ
seize – to take something with your hand suddenly, firmly or roughly จับ
scene – site; a place where something happens or happened สถานที่เกิดเหตุ
queue – a line of people waiting for something คิว
victim – someone who has been harmed, injured or killed as the result of a crime เหยื่อผู้เคราะห์ร้าย
peek – to look at something quickly (and often secretly because you should not be looking at it) แอบดู, แอบมอง, ลอบมอง
shoulder – one of the two parts of your body between your neck and the top of your arms ไหล่
obtain – to get something that you want or need, especially by going through a process that is difficult ได้มา, ได้รับ
PIN code – the abbreviation for ‘personal identification number’ (a number given to you, for example by a bank, so that you can use a plastic card to take out money from a cash machine) พิน (รหัสประจำตัว)
remove – to take something away เอาออกจาก
offence – a crime or illegal activity for which there is a punishment การกระทำผิดกฎหมาย
release – allowing someone to go free การปล่อยตัว
keen-eyed – someone who is very good at noticing things
trick – something that you do to make somebody believe something which is not true, or to annoy somebody as a joke โกง,หลอกลวง
deputy – a person whose rank is immediately below that of the leader of an organisation รอง
superintendent – a senior police officer เจ้าหน้าที่ตำรวจระดับสูง
lodge – to formally make something such as a complaint or a claim ยื่น (คำร้อง)
reluctant - not very willing to do something and therefore slow to do it ไม่เต็มใจ
reputation – the opinion people have about how good or bad someone or something is ชื่อเสียง
similar – like somebody/something but not exactly the same คล้ายกัน
jurisdiction – a country or area in which a particular legal system operates ขอบเขตอำนาจที่ศาลและกฏหมายควบคุมไปถึง
key – very important ที่สำคัญ
suspect – a person who is thought to have committed a crime ผู้ต้องสงสัย
arrest warrant – a document signed by a judge allowing police to arrest someone หมายจับ