Elderly man caught stealing from Nonthaburi temple sparks online debate

Image courtesy of Khao Sod Online

A dramatic video has emerged, showing an elderly man surreptitiously stealing money from a temple donation tree. The clip, shared by a Facebook user, has sparked a fierce debate among netizens, with some sympathising with the thief, suggesting his actions were driven by necessity. However, others condemned the act as a violation of religious sanctity, regardless of the amount stolen. The incident occurred on August 28 at a temple in Nonthaburi province.

As the man entered the temple, he paid respects to the main Buddha statue before casually approaching the donation tree. He then removed a banknote attached to a stick and pocketed it before leaving the temple.

Following the video’s dissemination, the online community was split into two factions. One group empathised with the man, believing he was probably desperate and needed the money for food. They argued that if he were a habitual thief, he would have taken more than just one note. However, the other faction viewed his actions as legally and ethically wrong, regardless of the amount involved.

Upon investigation, local authorities visited the temple in Nonthaburi. Boonthing Taangjai, the village headman and a temple committee member, revealed that suspicions arose when donations from the tree inside the temple started disappearing frequently, leaving behind empty sticks.

Temple Theft
Image courtesy of Khao Sod Online.

Security footage confirmed that the suspect, a tall, 70 year old thin man, wearing a light-coloured shirt and grey trousers, was the culprit. He was seen entering the temple, paying respects to the Buddha statue, and then casually plucking a 50 baht note from the donation tree.

Following the incident, Boonthing managed to locate the suspect, identified as, 67 years old Dam. Upon confrontation, Dam initially denied any wrongdoings but later confessed after being shown the video evidence. He claimed to have acted out of desperation, as he had no money and was hungry.

Boonthing, along with the temple committee, is now considering their next steps. Dam, who only recently started living in the temple, has been causing concern among temple residents due to the mysterious disappearance of various items. The assistant abbot of the temple, 56 year old Phra Weera Utomo, stated that the temple has been experiencing daily thefts ever since Dam began residing there. This prompted the temple authorities to consider closing the temple earlier and installing more CCTV cameras.

The village headman, 50 years old Jakkrit Saosiri, shared that Dam had been previously caught stealing from another temple and was asked to leave. Despite the temple’s reluctance to press charges out of compassion, reports KhaoSod Online.

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Nattapong Westwood

Nattapong Westwood is a Bangkok-born writer who is half Thai and half Aussie. He studied in an international school in Bangkok and then pursued journalism studies in Melbourne. Nattapong began his career as a freelance writer before joining Thaiger. His passion for news writing fuels his dedication to the craft, as he consistently strives to deliver engaging content to his audience.

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