Chatuchak is a great market, but it also has thieves, pickpockets, drug users and even a "one-dollar gang". Retired police officers have been brought in to keep things under control.
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Pol Lt Col Surasak Boonsrihirat, president of S&S Corporation which is contracted to handle security at the Chatuchak Weekend Market, shows pictures of pickpockets who have been caught at the market. WASSAYOS NGAMKHAM
Cops come out of retirement to help combat crime at Chatuchak
Retired police detectives are back on the beat, deployed on a mission to weed out crooks preying on shoppers at the country's most famous weekend market.
The Chatuchak Weekend Market, spanning 68 rai, resembles a small town on weekends with an estimated 150,000 shoppers, many of them foreign tourists.
The large crowds at Chatuchak, or JJ Market as it's commonly known, are a perfect target for criminals, police say.
The market employs 300 police and security guards, but the team is not nearly large enough to cover the market's vast premises.
To increase the size of the force and to boost security at the market, the company in charge of security has opted to bring police out of retirement.
The market teems with more than 17,000 vendors, many of whom report a variety of crimes on a regular basis.
One of the most common crimes is the theft of goods from vendors while they stack their merchandise before opening their shop, Surat Dabmai, the head of the State Railway of Thailand's governor office, said. The SRT owns and manages the market land.
Pickpockets are another nuisance, he said. They often operate in gangs and prowl the markets in the late afternoons and evenings.
Mr Surat said the gangs comprise locals and foreigners from Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos. Many of the Thai crooks are tied to theft networks in Klong Toey, he added.
The pickpockets are hard to catch, since they work in teams and quickly pass the stolen goods from one gang member to another.
Police usually have no evidence and are unable to catch them red-handed, he said. All they can do is take photos of the suspects, record their personal details and let them go, he said. "But they come back soon enough and it's not easy to weed them out."
Incidents involving armed robbery have happened, but are quite rare, he said.
Some corners of the market have become hang-outs for teenagers to buy, sell or take drugs, Mr Surat said.
The notorious "one-dollar gang" of Iranians also prey on foreign tourists at the market. Members of the gang approach potential victims and ask for money, he said. They then open their wallets to show the shoppers they are down to their last American dollar.
The scam artists speak to their target in poor English to distract them while another gang member sneaks up behind them to pull money from the victim's purse. Mr Surat said the market now has 72 surveillance cameras to keep an eye on the action. At least 80 more cameras will be installed.
Two of the crime hot spots at the market are around the pet shops and the teenage merchandise sections because they are particularly crowded, he said.
Pol Lt Col Surasak Boonsrihirat is the president of S&S Corporation, which was contracted last year to provide security at the market.
He said his firm has recruited retired police to help fight back against crime at the market.
The market is under the jurisdiction of the Bang Sue police station, which only has 20 police available to patrol the market.
A total of 37 retired police, many of them former investigators specialising in theft cases, were hired to maintain security at the market by Pol Lt Col Surasak's firm.
contract – to make an official written agreement with someone to do something ทำสัญญา
security – the activities involved in protecting a country, building or person against attack, danger, etc ระบบป้องกันภัย
pickpocket – a person who steals money, etc. from other people's pockets, especially in crowded places นักล้วงกระเป๋า
cop – (informal) a police officer ตำรวจ (คำสแลง)
retirement – the time when you stop working, especially because of old age เกษียณอายุ
combat – to try to stop something unpleasant or harmful from happening or increasing ต่อต้าน
detective – a person, especially a police officer, whose job is to examine crimes and catch criminals นักสืบ; ผู้สืบสวน
beat – the area that a police officer walks around regularly and which he or she is responsible for พื้นที่ลาดตระเวน
deploy – (of police or soldiers) to put in place ready for action ส่ง (ทหาร, ตำรวจ) ประจำการ
mission – an important piece of work that a person or a group of people has been given to do ภาระกิจ หน้าที่
weed out – to get rid of unwanted things or people กำจัดให้หมดไป
crook – (slang) a dishonest person; a criminal; คนทุจริต, คนหลอกลวง, ขโมย (คำสแลง)
prey on – to hurt or deceive a group of people, especially people who are weak or can easily be hurt or deceived หาเหยื่อ
span – to stretch right across something, from one side to the other ก้าวข้าม
resemble – to be like or look like someone or something else มีลักษณะคล้ายกับ
estimated – thought to be a particular amount, size, etc. based on a guess or the best information available ประมาณการ
target – a person, business, building, area, etc., that someone intends to attack เป้าหมาย
employ – to have someone work or do a job for you and pay them for it ว่าจ้าง, จ้าง
vast – extremely large in area, size, amount, etc. กว้างใหญ่
premises – the buildings and land that a business or organisation uses ที่ดินและสิ่งปลูกสร้าง
boost – to increase; to strengthen เพิ่ม; ทำให้มีกำลังมากขึ้น
opt – to make a choice or a decision from a range of possibilities เลือก
teem – to be full of people, animals, etc. moving around มีอยู่คับคั่ง, มีอยู่เต็ม, เต็มไปด้วย
vendor – someone who sells something, but not in a shop พ่อค้าแม่ค้าแผงลอย
on a regular basis – done or happening often, especially with the same time and space in between each activity and the next เป็นประจำ, เสมอๆ
theft – (the act of) dishonestly taking something which belongs to someone else and keeping it การลักขโมย
stack – to put objects neatly on top of each other making a pile วางตั้งซ้อนกัน, กองซ้อนกัน
merchandise – goods that are bought or sold; goods that are for sale in a shop/store สินค้า
nuisance – something that is annoying and is a continuing problem การรบกวน, การทำให้รำคาญ
prowl – to move quietly and carefully around an area, especially with the intention of committing a crime เดินด้อมๆ มองๆ
comprise – to consist or be made up of two or more things ประกอบด้วย
locals – people who live in a particular place ชาวบ้าน
network – a large system of connected parts, organisations, people, etc. เครือข่าย
evidence – facts statements or objects that help to prove whether or not someone has committed a crime หลักฐาน
catch red-handed – to catch somebody in the act of doing something wrong or committing a crime จับได้ขณะกระทำผิด
suspect – a person who is thought to have committed a crime ผู้ต้องสงสัย
details – small facts or pieces of information relating to a situation or a person รายละเอียด
incident – something that happens, usually something bad เหตุการณ์
armed – carrying a weapon ติดอาวุธ
robbery – the crime of stealing money or goods from a bank, shop/store, person, etc การปล้น, การโจรกรรม
rare – not happening very often หาได้ยาก
hang-out – a place where somebody likes to go often
notorious – famous for something bad ซึ่งมีชื่อเสียงในทางไม่ดี
approach – to move toward someone and speak to them about something เข้าหา
potential – possible in the future ที่อาจเป็นไปได้
victim – someone who has been harmed, injured or killed as the result of a crime เหยื่อผู้เคราะห์ร้าย
wallet – a small flat case that people keep money, bank cards, and small documents in and usually carry in their pocket or bag กระเป๋าขนาดเล็กที่ทำจากหนังหรือพลาสติก
scam – a dishonest plan, especially for getting money กลโกง, แผนร้าย
scam artist – a criminal is clever at tricking you out of your money by taking advantage of any weaknesses they can discover
distract – to take your attention away from something ทำให้ไขว้เขว เสียสมาธิ
sneak – to go somewhere secretly, trying to avoid being seen เดินหลบ,เดินลับ ๆ ล่อ ๆ
purse – a small bag made of leather, plastic, etc. for carrying coins and often also paper money, cards, etc, used especially by women กระเป๋าใส่เงินขนาดเล็ก
surveillance camera – a camera kept in a place to record what happens there, especially criminal activity กล้องวงจรปิดเพื่อรักษาการความปลอดภัย
pet – an animal, a bird, etc. that you have at home for pleasure, rather than one that is kept for work or food สัตว์เลี้ยง
section – any of the parts into which something is divided ส่วน
recruit – to get someone to work in a company or join an organisation จ้างงาน
jurisdiction – the authority that an official organisation has to make legal decisions about somebody/something เขตอำนาจตามกฎหมาย
available – that you can get, use, find or buy มีอยู่, หาได้
patrol – to move regularly around a place in order to prevent trouble or crime or to watch for an enemy ลาดตระเวน
investigator – someone whose job is to officially find out the facts about something – ผู้สอบสวน, ผู้สำรวจ, ผู้ตรวจสอบ
specialise – to concentrate on a particular subject or activity มีความชำนาญเป็นพิเศษ
firm – a business or company บริษัท
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