PHUKET: Phuket Police are treating as suspicious claims by a Russian man that the 400,000 baht in foreign currency he buried for safekeeping on Thursday was stolen.
Lt Col Boonlert Onklang of the Chalong Police told the Phuket Gazette that the man, who he declined to name, said he buried the booty beside his rental holiday villa where he was staying in Rawai.
“The money was 6,700 euros and US$8,900 in foreign banknotes – the equivalent of about 400,000 baht,” Col Boonlert said.
The man, aged in his 60s, told police that at 10am Thursday, he put the money into a glass jar, put the jar in a black plastic bag, buried the bag under the air conditioner compressor beside the villa, and then went out for the day.
“He arrived home at about 6pm and noticed that the place where he had buried the money was dug up, and that the jar containing it was gone,” Col Boonlert said.
“He checked with his gardener and the maid, but they said they did not notice anything suspicious or anyone entering the villa while he was out.
“However, the maid did tell him that she found an empty black plastic bag in the garbage bin in the garden,” he added.
The man said he was sure that no one saw him burying his treasure.
“Only his 17-year-old son was in the house at the time, but the man said that even he was not around when he buried the jar. The boy learned the money was stolen only after his father told him,” said Col Boonlert.
The money was intended to pay for the rental of the villa at the high-end estate.
“He is a tourist. He arrived in Phuket with his son on September 27. He said that the money was to pay for his villa rental and other expenses during their stay in Phuket,” said Col Boonlert.
The money was also to pay for the rental of another villa, as relatives were to join the man and his son on holiday, he added.
“The man said he buried his money after hearing reports from friends that many homes in the area had been robbed recently, so he tried to find a way to hide his money from thieves,” Col Boonlert explained.
However, Phuket Police are now investigating why the man had so much cash in foreign currency on hand, and whether or not the money was derived from an illegal source.
— Orawin Narabal
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