Police get strict with red-plate cars

CHALONG: Traffic Police set up a checkpoint on Chao Fa East Rd on Monday night to check that all vehicles bearing red “temporary” license plates for newly-purchased cars were registered with the Transport Department and that the vehicles were not stolen or being used to commit crimes.

The checkpoint, near the intersection with Soi Palai, was also manned by officials from a provincial committee to track and examine police work on the island.

Technically, vehicles bearing the plates are not supposed to operate after dark. Police at the checkpoint, however, did not issue fines to motorists who broke this seldom-enforced rule. Only motorists whose plates did not match up with vehicle registration data provided by the Transport Department were fined.

Chalong Police Traffic Inspector Pol Capt Sutham Rattanasawangwong held a press conference on Friday to announce the crackdown, saying it was intended not only to cut crime, but also to encourage all motorists to make sure their vehicles were properly registered and their vehicle tax payments up-to-date.

“The state of the economy is not good at the moment. It is the low season and people are finding it hard to make a living, so some turn to crime. This is especially true of teenagers, many of whom come from other provinces to live and work or study here. Sometimes they steal cars or use vehicles to commit crimes such as snatch-and-run thefts, usually targeting women,” he said.

He explained that some had affixed bogus red plates to cars when carrying out crimes, thus hampering police when they begin an investigation after a vehicle is reported in a criminal complaint.

Surapol Tonrungruengtawee, chief of the Phuket Provincial Land Transport Office, told the Gazette that many motorists fail to inform his agency when their vehicles are stolen or otherwise taken off the road. In such cases, the agency automatically continues to assess annual vehicle registration tax.

His office is owed 40 million baht in unpaid vehicle registration fees dating back as far as 1979, he said.

There are about 80,000 cars and 200,000 motorcycles registered with the agency and many more on Phuket’s roads that are operating illegally, he added.

“I would like car dealers to cooperate with us by adhering to the law and registering newly-purchased vehicles with the Land Transport Office before attaching red license plates to them. You will be helping the nation when you pay the registration tax,” he noted.

Phuket News
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