Inside job: Police arrest Phuket spa robbers

PHUKET: Four suspects, including one spa employee, have been arrested for their involvement in the armed robbery of Imperial Spa earlier this month in Phuket Town.

Two armed men stormed into the spa on April 5, robbing the staff at gunpoint and knifepoint of 500,000 baht before riding off on a motorbike with a third accomplice (story here). About 10 Chinese tourists were present at the time.

At a press conference last night, Phuket Provincial Police named 46-year-old spa staffer Anongnat Siriwattananukul as the mastermind of the crime.

The other suspects arrested were Ms Anongnat’s boyfriend Sontaya Thanawut, 33, who threatened employees with a knife; Peerapol Soomngan, 22, who brandished the gun; and Thanan Sawaengthip, 21, who drove the getaway motorbike.

“All four suspects confessed to the crime and have been charged with armed gang robbery. Ms Anongnat admitted that she had planned the robbery,” explained Phuket Provincial Police Commander Patchara Boonyasit.

Maj Gen Patchara noted that the investigation had ruled out the involvement of two other suspects initially thought to have played a part in the crime because they were seen on CCTV waiting outside of the spa at the time of the robbery.

The four confessed criminals were arrested yesterday, after nearly a month of investigation, confirmed Gen Patchara.

“Mr Sontaya and Mr Peerapol were arrested on a construction site in Kamala, where they work. Mr Thanan was arrested while seeing a doctor at Vachira Phuket Hospital and Ms Anongnat was arrested in her rental house near Saphan Hin,” Gen Patchara said.

After confessing, Ms Anongnat told police that she had not robbed the spa out of anger, but to get enough money to buy back golden necklaces that she had pawned off.

“I had been working at the spa for three years. I was not angry with anyone, and I told the men not to hurt anyone. I just wanted some money,” she said.

“We divided the cash into five shares – I took two. After the robbery, I told everyone at the spa that I needed to see a doctor because I was sick. This made them take pity on me, and washed away any suspicions that I might have been involved – until I was arrested.”

Eun Mi Kim, the spa owner, expressed her gratitude to the police for their hard work and protection.

“I am relieved that the criminals have finally been arrested. Police have been at my spa almost every day since the incident. This made us feel very safe,” she said.

“Since the robbery, I have changed my policy, and now wire all salaries directly to employees’ bank accounts. As soon as I have a lot of cash on site, I go straight to the bank to deposit it.”

— Woranut Pechdee

Phuket News
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