SURAT THANI: Sakhon Wich-aidit was fed up with thieves trying to steal the mats of rubber stored outside her home, so she installed a security system – she surrounded her property, located in a rubber plantation, with bare wire, then plugged it into the mains power. But the only victim claimed by the system was K. Sakhon herself. At about 8:30 am on November 20, neighbors saw the 41-year-old run out of her home in remote Tambon Changkhwa to meet a friend. As she ran barefoot out of the house and across the wet, muddy yard, she lost her footing and fell on the wire, which had been concealed in the trees and bushes surrounding her home. Neighbors watched in horror as the current surged through her body. She was rushed to hospital, but died on the way. At Kanchanadit Hospital, police noted deep burn wounds on her body, especially across the palms of both hands, where the flesh had been seared off. One neighbor and a relative of the victim, 50-year-old Napha Wichaidit, said K. Sakhon lived in the house with her husband. The couple had five children, all students in Surat Thani Town, who came home only at weekends and holidays. She said nearly every house in the village had strung electric wiring around their properties, concealing it in vegetation and turning the current on at night to ward off thieves who regularly stole the raw rubber mats they left hanging in their yards. The thieves, who are especially active when the price of rubber is high, had been running amok in Tambon Changkhwa and neighboring tambons in Amphur Kanchanadit, K. Napha said. “They also go after other valuables as well, anything else with resale value,” she said. “They hit every house in the area, which is why almost everyone has set up electric wiring to protect themselves. “When we report the thefts to the police, they seldom catch the thieves. Sometimes they say they have caught a suspect, but we never get our property back,” she added. Many local residents first tried guard dogs, but without success. “Guard dogs didn’t work because the thieves came and gave them ya beua maa (dog poison). That’s when everyone started using live wires; we usually turn them off in the morning and until now, none of the home-owners has received a shock,” she said. Kanchanadit District Police Superintendent Pol Col Praphan Khaawthong said that using electrified fencing to protect property was common in rural districts, where it was especially popular for trapping tree-dwelling animals and for securing livestock in pens.
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