PHUKET CITY: A man wanted for the theft of Buddha images and amulets valued at about 100,000 baht was arrested on Tuesday night after Phuket City residents helped police set up a sting operation.
Capt Atthapol Wannasaengthong of Phuket City Police told the Gazette, “After the man’s description and the story of the robbery in Rassada was reported in a local newspaper [click here for our original report], residents of Samkong called police to say they knew of the same monk.
“He was well known for collecting temple donations in Phuket City,” Capt Atthapol said.
He named the man as Wisuth Pongpakawat, 45, also known as Phra Tee.
“The letter he used for collecting donations had his phone number and address. It stated that he was from a temple in Kanchanaburi province,” he added.
A resident in Samkong agreed to call Phra Tee, who was already in Bangkok, Capt Atthapol said.
“So he came back to Phuket to collect the money. He was arrested about 8 pm at the home of the volunteer who called him, near Samkong Shrine,” he added.
“Some of the amulets have been recovered. However, the rest he had already sold to a shop in Bangkok,” Col Atthapol explained.
“He has been charged with stealing and receiving stolen property,” he added.
Phra Tee lived at Wat Samkong until five years ago when he had a conflict with the head monk and moved to another temple, Capt Atthapol explained.
The Gazette understands that Phra Tee was at one point officially defrocked from the monkhood. It is still not known what status he held at the temple in Kanchanaburi, if any.
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