Police target criminals who prey on tourists

BANGKOK (AFP): In a major publicity drive ahead of His Majesty The King’s birthday celebrations next month, Thai police today launched a nationwide crackdown on criminals who target tourists. The operation was launched simultaneously by the national Tourist Police in major centres around the country, officers said. “This sweep is against any illegal activity involving tourism, illegal tour operators, unfair trading and misconduct,” said Police Lieutenant Colonel Suchai Chindavanich. “Over the past three decades tourism has grown rapidly‚Ķ. But, at the same time, crimes against foreigners are also on the rise,” he added. Around 150 officers riding in police patrol cars and on motorcycles and bicycles fanned out around Bangkok to the accompaniment of fluttering flags and loud marching music. The patrols hit the streets early this morning after a ceremony at Bangkok’s Lumpini Park, led by Tourist Police Commander Lieutenant General Wuthi Liptapallop and attended by Thai television crews and a small group of bewildered Western tourists. Thai authorities are expecting an influx of foreigners ahead of the 72nd birthday of King Bhumibol Adulyadej, the world’s longest reigning monarch, on December 5. More Thais are also expected to travel within the country during that period. Most visitors pass through Thailand without trouble, but there have been a number of headline-grabbing incidents in recent months, including the apparent serial murders of six foreigners abducted from Bangkok’s airport by an individual posing as a taxi-driver. The Tourist Police, a small force of some 1,000 officers, will work in coordination with various metropolitan police departments and the Central Investigation Bureau. Thailand’s tourism industry has boomed during the economic downturn as foreigners, mainly from the United States and Europe, flock here to take advantage of the weak currency.

Phuket News

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