Phuket Police nab serial snatch bandit
PHUKET: Police on Wednesday arrested a serial snatch-and-run thief who allegedly committed at least 12 robberies in Phuket Town over the past month.
The suspect was identified as 20-year-old Wuttipong Uonpong, listed as a resident of Ayutthaya.
Lt Col Prawit Engchuan of the Phuket City Police told the Gazette that his office had received numerous theft reports from the Samkong area of Phuket Town in recent weeks.
Numerous descriptions of the snatch bandit and other evidence led police to suspect that a young man living in the Ketho area of Kathu was responsible, but they lacked the evidence to make an arrest.
“On August 22, we divided our officers into two teams. One team monitored his house, which is located near the Ketho police box on Wichit Songkram Road, while the other prepared to follow him in surveillance,” said Lt Col Prawit.
“At around 4 pm, he left home on his black-and-red Honda Click and we trailed him. When he reached Bangkok Hospital Phuket on Yaowarat Road, he snatched a shoulder bag that a woman had placed in the basket of her motorcycle, then quickly sped off. We followed him and arrested him the moment he arrived home,” he said.
The victim was later identified as Ms Somjai Suwannasri.
“From the reports we received, the snatcher always wore the same kind of helmet and clothes. We found items matching their descriptions when we searched his home and collected them as evidence.”
“Mr Wutthipong committed 12 similar robberies, always choosing Yaowarat Road in the Samkong area because it is not far from his house in Kathu, so he could get home quickly after each theft. He typically struck at around 8am to 9am, during rush hour, because there always are lot of people on the street then,” he added.
Mr Wutthipong told the Gazette that he tended to target women carrying shoulder bags or handbags. He would follow his chosen victim on his motorcycle and wait for a chance, then yank the bag off his victim or snatch it from the front basket.
“I spent the money I stole on prostitutes, clothing and drinks. Other belongings, such as phones or wallets, I sold to second-hand shops,” said Wutthipong.
“I used to work as a security guard for a company in Phuket. Around a month ago, they laid off some employees and I was jobless, so I started snatching,” he added.
Among the evidence presented were two Nokia mobile phones, three Samsung Galaxy 2 smartphones, a Panasonic camera, three wallets, a Brica video camera, two bank books, an ID card issued to Ms Somjai, a red helmet, a pair of DC brand sneakers, a black jacket, and a white, long-sleeved shirt.
Mr Wutthipong was scheduled to appear before Phuket Provincial Court yesterday for arraignment.
He faces multiple charges of snatch theft crimes, each of which is punishable by up to three years in prison, a 6,000-baht fine, or both.
— Orawin Narabal
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