RAWAI: A year after the still-unsolved murder of Norwegian Simen Knudsen, violent robberies against foreigners on motorcycles continue in Rawai – with the the perpetrators now carrying out attacks in populated areas during broad daylight.
The latest victim is 38-year-old Sandra Ullrich, who suffered two fractures to the back of her skull when a pair of Thai men on a motorcycle tried to steal her shoulder bag about 1 pm on Thursday.
The attack occurred as Ms Ullrich, a four-year resident of Phuket, was riding her motorbike past the Banana Corner restaurant, at the corner of the three-way intersection of Saiyuan and Wiset Rd, in the heart of the Rawai-Nai Harn area.
The victim’s husband, Dutchman Hans Ullrich, told the Gazette shortly after the accident he was incensed at the response of the Chalong Police and that he was prepared to “take matters into my own hands” if they fail to take action to catch the perpetrators.
“I just went to the police station. If these guys don’t take care of it, I am going to absolutely freak out. I am going to sit in the bush myself with a couple of my friends and take care of it, because this is absolutely insane. They don’t do [anything] about it, ” said Mr Ullrich, a well-known member of the local dive industry.
“I know these types of things happen everywhere, but it just seems to be getting too much lately,” he said.
Mr Ullrich said he knew of three other similar attacks that have happened over the past six weeks.
Police sometimes patrol risk areas, such as the road from Rawai to the Kata Viewpoint, in the high season, but otherwise only after high-profile cases such as the Knudsen killing, he said.
Mrs Ullrich on Friday was still in the intensive care unit of Phuket International Hospital, where she had yet to regain her hearing, though she is expected to make a full recovery, he said.
The skull fractures, which occurred even though she was wearing a helmet, resulted from the awkward way she fell from the motorbike, he said.
When reporting the incident at Chalong Police Station, he was shown entries in the daily log of two similar attacks over the previous two days, he said.
The attack against his wife came little over a month after Mrs Ullrich’s best friend, American Sheila McCormick, was attacked in similar fashion on the viewpoint road from Rawai to Kata, not far from where Mr Knudsen was stabbed to death on September 24 last year.
In that attack, on August 15, Ms McCormick was riding along the viewpoint road at about 9:30 pm. As she reached the bottom of the hill near the elephant camp, she passed two men on a single motorbike who appeared to be drunk, she told the Gazette.
“Then I knew I was being followed, so I put some distance on them,” she said.
Suddenly they sped up and the man on the back of the bike reached out to grab her bag, but the pair lost control and crashed into the guardrail at the bottom of the hill going about 100 kilometers per hour, she said.
“They didn’t get my bag. They just got really hurt,” she said.
But Ms McCormick also crashed, suffering two broken ribs, bad abrasions and a sprained ankle that left her unable to walk for a week, she said.
“The area has a reputation for this kind of thing happening, but the reputation is for attacks that happen at one o’clock in the morning against people who are alone, possibly drunk… When I went to the police station, I found out that they had attacked another foreign woman on the same hill a few hours earlier, at about 7 pm,” said Ms McCormick.
She added that she got a very good look at her attackers and was told by police that her description of the two men matched that of two men who had carried out the attack two hours earlier.
A simple patrol dispatched to the scene of the first attack could have scared off her assailants and prevented the attack against her, she said.
Chalong Police did not record a police report in the case of her attack, even though she talked to them three times, she said.
“That was the whole point. They didn’t do anything for me and they didn’t do anything for [Sandy],” Ms McCormick said.
“I really love this place and I really felt safe, even as a woman. So I am really surprised about all the things going on,” she said.
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