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Shots fired as Phuket yacht robbery thwarted

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PHUKET: Witnesses reported at least two shots fired in the dark on Chalong Bay tonight as a gang of thieves gave chase to a Phuket boat captain who outfoxed the criminals until the police arrived in force.

Capt Bruce Issell was warned by a silent alarm at about 11:30pm that intruders had boarded the well-known Davinci catamaran, renowned in local yachting circles for its participation in the annual Phuket King’s Cup and Phuket Raceweek regattas.

Capt Issell raced to Chalong Pier, boarded the Davinci‘s dinghy and headed for another Davinci vessel, a Sunseeker 50, to investigate what had triggered the alarm.

Once aboard the Sunseeker, he motored to the Davinci catamaran with spotlights ablaze at full strength.

“The thieves found themselves well and truly lit up, but could see only one person aboard the Sunseeker,” a witness told the Phuket Gazette.

Seeing only one boat approaching them, the thieves attacked the Sunseeker and attempted to board the luxury yacht and capture Capt Issell and his one young Thai crewman.

A chase ensued throughout the moored yachts and commercial craft in the bay for some 20 minutes, with the Sunseeker ducking and weaving to hold off the raiders.

“There were at least two bright flashes as the thieves fired shots at the Sunseeker. You could see the flashes from the shore,” the witness said.

Police reinforcements quickly arrived in dinghies, changing the balance of power.

The thieves soon surrendered and were escorted to the floating marina under construction in the bay.

“They were questioned and handcuffed, and the stolen items were inspected,” the witness told the Gazette.

“For all their efforts, the thieves had managed to steal only some children’s foam paddle boards, a set of binoculars, some flashlights and other odds and ends,” the witness confirmed.

Scuffles broke out as the officers placed the gang of about four men under arrest.

The men were then transported to Chalong Police Station in the back of a police pickup truck.

The bright yellow dinghy the thieves had used in the thwarted raid was also seized as evidence.

The Davinci catamaran was taken from its mooring to the marina for further police inspection later this morning.

“I could not be less than 100% impressed with all concerned – Bruce Issell and his crewman – and the very professional Chalong Police,” said the witness, who asked not to be identified publicly.

The Gazette has yet to confirm whether or not the men arrested tonight were the same raiders who have terrorized the Baan Nit area off Cape Panwa for the past week.

A Frenchman whose yacht was anchored in that area was startled by raiders late Thursday night. A scuffle broke out on board and the Frenchman suffered at least seven knife lacerations during the attack, including a cut to his head.

Fearing for his safety, the Frenchman did not return to sleep on his yacht last night. It may have proved a prudent move as the thieves returned last night and made off with what was reported as a substantial bounty of yachting ‘removables’.

The yacht has been since moved from the area.

 

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Archiving articles from the Phuket Gazette circa 1998 - 2017. View the Phuket Gazette online archive and Digital Gazette PDF Prints.

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