Man was a respected jeweler and figure in the diamond trading business until he lost his business to a chronic gambling habit and love of risk. Heist was another high stakes gamble this time with his freedom.
Thai police have revealed that the Thai man behind a daring diamond heist on December 11th in Bangkok was a failed businessman with a chronic gambling habit. The man had attempted to regain his fortune by using ฿40,000 to lure an Indian diamond seller to a hired shopfront and escaping with a valuable diamond on a motorbike after negotiations for the sale of a ฿10 million gem commenced.
Thai police have revealed that the mastermind and prime mover behind a colourful attempt to theft of a ฿10 million, 10 carat diamond from an Indian national was formerly a well to do diamond trader and businessman from Chanthaburi province. He had been a wealthy man and highly regarded as a jeweler. He was recognised in the diamond exchange business as a player. His downfall had come about through excessive gambling, which coupled with losses in his business, lead to its closure. It left him in desperate and crippling financial straits.
Diamond seller lured to a rented shop front
The Deputy Nation Police Chief Chalermkiart Srivorakhan told reporters that he was popularly known as ‘Sia Ae’ to colleagues in the industry. The heist gained national and international media attention with the thief using a hired shop to lure the diamond seller to a meeting before making off with the valuable diamond after locking the seller inside.
Arrested former businessman revealed that he gambled ฿40,000 to pull off the heist in an attempt to regain his lost fortune
On Saturday, the 15th December, the covered diamond thief reenacted his colourful crime, handcuffed and under the close supervision of Thai police. It was revealed that Mr Pipatpongpat, an inveterate gambler, had only rented the four storey house shop the week prior to the heist. He had ฿40,000 to invest in his criminal plan, which he intended to use to regain his former fortune. He spent ฿10,000 to rent the shop premises and another ฿20,000 to install an automatic glass door which he later used to imprison the Indian seller of the diamond when the heist went ahead at 3 pm on Tuesday the 11th December. The former diamond kingpin had induced the Indian national, the owner of the valuable diamond, to visit him at his fake business premises to negotiate a sale. The driver of the motorcycle, on which he made his escape minutes later, was a Cambodian national who was hired for this purpose.
Indian man did not get his diamond back after the arrest of former jeweler and businessman
Unfortunately for the Indian national, police have revealed that he has not yet received the diamond back after his ordeal. Mr Pipatpongpat has confessed everything to the Thai police, who debriefed him after his arrest on December 14th, while attempting to cross into Cambodia with his Thai wife. He told them that he had sold the diamond for ฿500,000 to a man from Vietnam, whom he had met at a casino. He had paid ฿100,000 to another individual to organize his escape from Thailand. The remaining ฿400,000 which he had retained, was meant for gambling in Cambodia, once he had crossed the border. But it was not to be. When arrested by Thai police, he shouted that the ‘game was over.’ Unfortunately for Mr Pipatpongpat, he now has to look forward to a new game, survival of a long prison sentence in the Thai corrections system.
Thai police quick off the mark when reports of the daring heist spread out from Bangkok
Thai police had to be quick off the mark on Tuesday December 11th when the elaborate diamond theft unfolded in Bangkok at Si Phraya Road in the Bang Rak area of the city. The enterprising jewel thief had set up a sting operation to lure an unsuspecting India diamond seller to a fake shop he had set up, purporting to be a diamond dealer. The stone was worth ฿10 million. It was a story that captured the imagination of the media and the public. There are conflicting reports as to how he identified or contacted the 44 year old Indian national, Jain Vaiphav. One report suggests that 59 year old Pipatpongpat Suksawatpipat, had met the Indian man at a trade fair and the two had exchanged telephone numbers. Another report, attributed to police, is that the diamond thief had become aware of the Indian man and his valuable diamond after noticing an advertisement for its sale placed online on a trade website. Both may be true.
3 minute heist from start to finish when the Indian brought his diamond to negotiate a sale
What is not in doubt is that Vaiphav came to the shop on Si Phraya Road on the 11th December to sell his valuable diamond. He was invited in to the store by Mr. Suksawatpipat purporting to be the owner of the business. In the course of the their meeting, the Thai man convinced the Indian national to let him handle the valuable diamond reported to be 10 carats. Following this, the 59 year old former businessman suggested that he needed to take the item outside to view it in the sunlight. The glass door of the shop opened and locked automatically. Unknown to the Indian man, Mr Suksawatpipat was collected by an accomplice on a stolen motorbike. They both fled the scene. The Indian man belatedly realised what was happening. He had to break the automatic glass door, suffering a serious injury to his arm in his panic. This required 20 stitches later in hospital. It is reported that the whole incident took only 3 minutes from start to finish.
Indian diamond owner never encountered such a scam in 20 years of doing business
The Indian man was left badly shaken and stressed out, quite understandably, by the shocking turn of events. Thai police assured him that it was unlikely that the culprit, Pipatpongpat Suksawatpipat, had offloaded the diamond quickly. Such a diamond would take quite a while to fence or pass off, even within the criminal underworld. The Indian man told the press that he had been 20 years in the diamond business and had never had of such an audacious criminal enterprise.
Police identified and arrested the diamond thief three days after the heist at the border
Thai police later discovered that the motorcycle, used by the thief and his accomplice, was registered to a dead man. The motorbike, which the police later retrieved in the Pathumwan district of Bangkok, two days after the theft, had no licence plate. Police were able, however, to trace it using a tax renewal notice. This linked the motor bike to Lopburi province. CCTV footage allowed the Thai police to obtain arrest warrants for the diamond thief and his associate, driving the motorbike which had left at speed from outside the shop, which he had rented temporarily as a front for the criminal enterprise. Pipatpongpat Suksawatpipat was later arrested by Thai police three days later as he attempted to cross the border into Cambodia at Chanthaburi province with his wife.