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ATM cash thieves arrested in Phuket

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BANGKOK (Kom Chad Luek): Crime Suppression Division detectives announced at a press conference in Bangkok yesterday the arrest in Phuket on Wednesday of two Krung Thai Bank employees who allegedly stole a massive 28.8 million baht from ATM machines in the capital.

The suspects, identified as Chatchai Jongsirirat, 32, and Pichet Kraibutra, 29, were employed by Krung Thai Business Service Co. Their responsibilities included refilling ATM machines with cash.

On September 5, Krung Thai Bank representative Wisan Supasombatoran reported to police the loss of more than 28.8 million baht from the bank’s ATM accounts in Bangkok between August 23 and 25, the loss being discovered by the bank on August 27.

Upon learning of the loss, the finger of suspicion quickly pointed to Chatchai and Pichet. Not only did the two have access keys and passwords for the machines, but they had also stopped reporting to work and could no longer be contacted.

A team of Crime Suppression Police detectives led by Pol Col Chonasit Wattawarangkul managed to track the two suspects to a house in the government’s Keha Housing Project in Tambon Rassada, Phuket City, where they were arrested.

Police also recovered 6.4 million baht in cash found in the house and seized two cars and a notebook computer.

The two confessed to the crime and gave the names of two accomplices, both friends of Chatchai and local government officials in Phang Nga’s Takuatung District. They were identified as Arak “Dum” Mailaeiad, 30, headman of Village 1 in Tambon Krasome, and Somkiat Sonjai, 32, a member or the Tambon Krasome Council.

Police arrested the pair in Phang Nga on charges of receiving stolen property, and recovered 12.5 million baht that been stashed away in a 50-gallon fuel drum.

After their arrests, Chatchai and Pichet told police they had been stealing money from the ATM machines for a long time – though only in amounts of up to 10,000 baht a time – to cover gambling losses, credit card debts and personal expenses.

They put the cash into the ATM machines according to normal procedures, they explained, then went back later, while off-duty, to steal cash using their access to the machine.

They decided to make off with a big haul and escape to the South only after they learned they were to be transferred out of their positions servicing the ATM machines. They used part of the stolen cash to buy cars and gave much of it to Arak and Somkiat for safekeeping, they said.

All four suspects are are now being held in cells at the Rachada Criminal Court in Bangkok. They have been denied bail. Police and bank officials are trying to track down the rest of the missing money.

 

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