Car thieves get creative

Car thieves get creative

A black Audi coupe is confiscated from a gang which allegedly forged its vehicle registration details. The gang is also suspected of involvement in car theft. (Photo by Wassayos Ngamkham)
A black Audi coupe is confiscated from a gang which allegedly forged its vehicle registration details. The gang is also suspected of involvement in car theft. (Photo by Wassayos Ngamkham)

Black market is a popular choice for thieves, while a luxury car ring is using fake registration plates

The latest police crackdown on vehicle theft by the Crime Suppression Division (CSD) has revealed that a large number of vehicles are being stolen by means other than being broken into.

Sakkarin Yingchatchawanchai, 28, fled before his houses were raided by CSD police last Tuesday. The suspect had faked his identity to avoid arrest for allegedly running a gang that stole vehicles and exported them.

Police seized 16 cars suspected to have been stolen, Pol Col Bunlue Phadungthin, chief of CSD's subdivision 3, said.

Mr Sakkarin's had changed his name from Wirawat Sipodok, registered as a resident of Nonthaburi's Bang Yai district. He previously ran an auto repair shop on Phibun Songkhram Road in Nonthaburi.

The owner of a car rental business, who declined to be named, told the CSD that he agreed to lease a vehicle to Mr Sakkarin, who appeared well-dressed and respectable. The suspect called the business on March 1 to rent a car for a month.

Mr Sakkarin claimed his own car was being repaired and showed the car rental owner a repair document. He also gave copy of his identity card, the victim said.

After he took the rental car out, Mr Sakkarin paid a daily rent of 600 baht for 10 days before telling the car rental business owner that he was having an issue with his finances. After that, he was never heard from again, according to the owner.

The CDS said Mr Sakkarin also allegedly had other tricks to steal cars. He encouraged people with financial problems to pawn their vehicles with him, but then went on to sell them on the black market, Pol Col Bunlue said.

CSD investigators found pawn and loan documents in Mr Sakkarin's houses during the Tuesday raid. They also confiscated six motorcycles and four guns and ammunition for inspection.

Also last week, the CSD raids caught a gang believed to have connections with a car theft network.

The gang sold used luxury cars illegally to unsuspecting customers, Pol Col Bunlue said.

Police are looking into information which might link the gang to any car theft ring, and have confiscated fake vehicle registration plates from the used car business, said the CSD subdivision chief.

Police managed to track down one of the vehicles, a black Audi coupe, which the gang had sold to a customer for 12 million baht at a petrol station on Pradit Manutham Road in Bangkok.

According to investigators, checks found the Audi coupe was registered with the Department of Land Transport as a white vehicle with another registration number. The registration record shows the car belonged to Phongphan Kasemsawat who died in a car crash eight years ago.

Phongphan, 39, together with his wife, Benchamat Masing, was driving the car when the accident occurred on a road between Kanchanaburi's Phanom district and Nakhon Pathom's Kamphaeng Saen district.

The man was killed while his wife was severely injured.

The damaged Audi car was later repaired and sold to the gang which forged the vehicle registration number.

"Certain state officials must have been involved [in the number plate forgery]," Pol Col Bunlue said, adding that someone had almost certainly helped the gang bypass the strict regulations of the registration process.

In a third raid last week, the CSD arrested a member of a gang which allegedly stole motorcycles to sell in Myanmar.

The crackdown was headed by Pol Col Maen Menyaem, chief of CSD's subdivision 4. His team nabbed a man identified as Athippati Tulathong. He allegedly colluded with a Myanmar accomplice called Hatsan who bought the stolen motorcycles from Mr Athippati.

Mr Athippati, who is wanted on multiple arrest warrants, was nabbed in a housing estate in Ratchaburi's Ban Pong district. His arrest followed a raid on a gang of five earlier this year after police found they dismantled stolen motorcycles and sent them accross the border as spare parts.

According to Pol Col Maen, Mr Athippati did not use sophisticated method, he just stole motorcycles parked in security blind spots at night. Pol Col Maen said Mr Athippati has a knack for avoiding arrest and had been committing the crime in Bangkok and neighbouring provinces for more than 10 years.

The 29-year-old suspect has not renewed his identity card since the age of 15 which has made it hard for police to pin him down despite there being four arrest warrants for charges including motorcycle theft and depriving a minor from parental care in his name, added Pol Col Maen.

Vocabulary

  • black market (noun): an illegal form of trade in which foreign money, or goods that are difficult to obtain, are bought and sold - ตลาดมืด
  • confiscate: to officially remove someone’s possessions for legal reasons or as a punishment   - ยึดทรัพย์
  • crackdown: strong action that someone in authority takes to stop a particular activity - การใช้กำลังเข้าปราบปรามของเจ้าหน้าที่
  • deprive: to prevent someone from having something - ทำให้ไม่ได้รับ
  • dismantle: to take something apart - รื้อ
  • export (noun): something sold and transported to another country - สินค้าออก
  • finances: money used to run a business, an activity or a project - แหล่งเงินทุน, แหล่งรายได้
  • flee (past form: fled) (verb): to leave a place or person quickly because you are afraid of possible danger or consequences - หนี
  • forge: to make illegal copies of something valuable, especially in order to earn money - ปลอมแปลง
  • knack: a skill or ability - ความสามารถพิเศษ
  • means: methods; ways - วิธี, วิธีการ
  • nabbed (verb): caught or arrested - ถูกจับ, โดนจับกุม
  • pawn (verb): to leave an object with a pawn shop in exchange for money. The object is returned to the owner if he or she pays back the money within an agreed period of time. If not, it can be sold. - จำนำ
  • respectable: considered by society to be acceptable, good or correct - ซึ่งยอมรับได้
  • seize: to take something using official power and force - จับกุม
  • sophisticated: complicated and advanced in design or planning - ซับซ้อน
  • trick: a special and effective and skilful way of doing something - วิธีพลิกแพลง, เทคนิคพิเศษ

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