Police on lookout for rogue transgenders
Recent thefts of hapless tourists call for extra vigilance
Police are urging foreign tourists to be on their guard when engaging in casual sex with transgenders in Thailand owing to a recent spate of assaults and thefts.
The warning was given amid a police crackdown on transgenders operating in Pattaya who drug tourists to steal their cash and valuables.
"We don't mean to point the finger at transgenders," Tourist Police Division chief Surachet Hakphan told the Bangkok Post.
However, some of them trick and rob foreigners.
Like Bangkok, Pattaya, which is known for its pubs, bars and red light entertainment, has gained a reputation as a place where unsuspecting foreigners have fallen victim to transgender thieves.
The crackdown has led to more patrols in tourist areas and stricter enforcement of laws against prostitutes. All victims of recent attacks have accused transgenders of being the perpetrators.
Investigators are studying the suspects' behaviour and circumstances in which the attacks took place, and using the information to help stem crime.
Last Monday, officers from the Patrol and Special Operation Division arrested three transgenders: Thittayaphon Chaithawip, 20, Prathai Chaisiri, 28, and Bencharong Ubon, 24, who were charged with illegally offering sexual services on Khao San Road in Bangkok's Bang Lamphu area and stealing a credit card from a Polish tourist.
According to the investigation, the transgenders deliberately distracted the tourist by creating an argument.
They exploited the commotion as a distraction while they stole his credit card from his wallet. The suspects allegedly spent 35,000 baht on his card.
Ms Thittayaphon admitted to police her gang only targeted foreigners because "they tend not to lodge complaints with police".
Though some asked for police's help, most tourists are not in the country long enough to take the case to court.
Fewer customers started using their sexual services, so the gang resorted to tricking and robbing foreigners, he said.
Pol Maj Gen Surachet: 'We don't mean to point the finger at transgenders'
She, along with her two friends, allegedly admitted to being involved in five previous robberies and have committed credit card fraud nine times, Ms Thittayaphon said.
Police say a similar case came to light after a Swedish national reported a theft at his condominium in Phra Khanong. The Swede says he met the transgenders near the Asok intersection before they came to have drinks at the condominium. The victim says he later passed out, and when he woke up his two computer laptops, a gold ring, a credit card and cash were missing.
A 32-year-old unemployed man identified as Yotthat Khuthanthong was also suspected of being involved in the robbery. Mr Yotthat denied the accusations though admitted to knowing the suspects.
In a separate incident, a German man was allegedly drugged by a transgender in Pattaya. The suspect, identified as Khomkrit Duangchan, 24, was later arrested by Pattaya police in February.
Ms Khomkrit was accused of making off with a luxury watch worth about 200,000 baht and two mobile phones from the victims' apartment at Chom Thian beach. Ms Khomkrit confessed she "remembered a trick from my transgender friend".
The trick in question was to put a sleeping pill into a soft drink and give it to the victim. When the German man became unconscious, Ms Khomkrit stole his valuables and escaped.
The Swedish and German men are among the few foreigners who have the courage to go to police and make a complaint following their ordeals, officers say. "Others were too embarrassed to tell police," said Pol Col Chakphet Phetploinin, chief of the Patrol and Special Operation Division. "This has made our investigation difficult because officers cannot bring criminals to justice."
One thing that foreigners can do to protect themselves is to be more aware if approached by transgenders who are acting in an intimidating or provocative way. Such a short-lived friendship could lead to a sad end, Pol Col Chakphet added.
For security officers, they should take comfort that their increased efforts in Pattaya are working, he said. The sight of police and soldiers is enough to deter ill-intentioned transgenders from carrying out their deeds, Pol Maj Gen Surachet said. "Police, soldiers and local officials will conduct a patrol in three-hour shifts," he said, adding that if transgenders are found offering sexual services, they will be nabbed immediately.
Reports of some Cambodian and Vietnamese transgenders operating in Pattaya with the same aim of robbing hapless foreign tourists have also surfaced, Pol Maj Gen Surachet warned.
Contact Crime Track: email@example.com.