'Lottery maniac' nabs cabbie thief

A taxi driver who allegedly stole from more than a dozen passengers after asking for their help was finally arrested on Wednesday, after bizarre help from a self-styled lottery enthusiast.

  • Published: 24/04/2013 at 07:29 PM
  • Newspaper section: breakingnews

Police said the taxi driver's method was to pretend he had run out of fuel, and ask his passengers to help him push the taxi off the road. When they got out to help, he sped away with their possessions.

But a serious lottery addict caught him up.

Police said the housemaid working for a couple who were the latest victims of the scam had actually written down the taxi's licence plate number, meaning to use it as the basis of a lottery bet for the May 1 national drawing.

When her employers spoke of the scam, the maid turned over her "lottery list". Police quickly arrested Wanlop Ou-thong, 54, at a resort in Suphan Buri where they said he had gone into hiding.

Nonthaburi police chief Thanayuth Wuthijamrasthamrong told the media the suspect confessed he had been able to pull the "out of gas" trick and make off with the victims’ assets 12 times on commuters in the Greater Bangkok Area.

He would tell passengers that his legs did not function well as they had been broken in an accident, and would ask them to get out of the vehicle and push it off the road before finding another taxi, Pol Maj Gen Thanayuth said.

Police searching his home in Nonthaburi province found wallets, ladies' shoulder bags, ornaments, a laptop computer, an iPhone, an iPad, a suitcase and some cash. Authorities also found a stolen four-month-old Pomeranian female dog.

Mr Wanlop told police he got the dog after he scammed a passenger in the Bang Yai area three months ago. He then managed to lie to his wife that he bought the dog for her as a gift, Pol Maj Gen Thanayuth added.

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