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Alleged jewel thief arrested in Koh Lanta



KOH LANTA: Anthony “Dirk” De Weirdt, wanted for questioning in connection with missing jewelry worth an estimated 18 million baht, was arrested on Koh Lanta on Friday following a tip-off.

De Weirdt, a Belgian who was formerly the factory manager of Bangkok’s CB Fine Jewelry, disappeared shortly after precious stones and other items were found missing from the company’s safe on October 23.

Because of a public holiday, the missing items were not noticed until the following Tuesday.

De Weirdt was arrested by officers from the Metropolitan Police Bureau Division 6 from Bangkok at 5 pm on November 5 in front of the Lanta Palace Resort on Koh Lanta.

He was taken to Bangkok and paraded in front of the media on Saturday and has, police said, confessed to the crime. Items from the heist were recovered and also displayed with De Weirdt.

It appears that he gave some of the jewelry to his wife, 39-year-old Lalin Boonmee. She was arrested at her Ladphrao condominium in Bangkok some time after her husband.

De Weirdt has been charged with robbery. Officers found passports in his possession in at least two other names – Dominique Jean Denis Verbestel and Richard P Branson – so charges relating to forged documents look likely to follow.

Police are also coordinating their investigation with the Belgian Embassy in Bangkok after a check on De Weirdt’s background revealed that, while in Antwerp, he allegedly committed fraud against several gem suppliers.

If found guilty in Thailand he will first serve a prison term in the Kingdom before being sent back to Belgium to face charges there.

On-Urma Chaisamroeng, secretary to the managing director of CB Fine Jewelery, said that the US$50,000 (2.3-million-baht) reward offered by the company will go to the arresting officers rather than to the person or persons who reported De Weirdt’s whereabouts to the police.

De Weirdt and Lalin remain in police custody in Bangkok.


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