Airport officials and police interviewed the owner of the bag when she returned at 1 pm, nearly 5 hours after the bag and its valuable contents had been left unattended in the terminal. The Thai woman was transporting the gold within Thailand so no crime had been committed and she was soon on her way again after signing a police statement.
Security officers and officials in Chiang Mai Airport struck gold on Monday morning after a suspicious bag was discovered to contain in excess of ฿13 million in pure gold. The bag had been left behind by a Thai businesswoman as she rushed to catch her flight to Bangkok.
On Monday last at Chiang Mai Airport, authorities were baffled after a black backpack left at the airport terminal was screened and found to contain over ฿13 million in gold.
The bag belonged to a Thai female passenger booked on a flight from Chiang Mai to Don Muang airport. It was left at the front of the Nok Air check-in desk at the airport by the passenger who was booked on flight DD30 to Bangkok. It was first noticed at the desk unattended at 8.30am approximately.
Black backpack bag drew the attention of security officers at Chiang Mai airport
It was not long before the bag drew the attention of the security officer on duty at the airport Sudthida Sittichockchaiwut particularly as it was three days after bombs went off in Bangkok and following a nationwide security alert to be on guard particularly at areas frequented by tourists. He called in Nonthakorn Sidang who works with the security firm MAI at the airport and both men kept the bag under observation. After an extended period during which the owner failed to return, the men decided they must act.
The security officers reported the bag to more senior authorities at the airport.
Bomb disposal team called in and declared the bag safe before any further examination
Following regulations, they first called in the bomb disposal team who are available round the clock to check out the by now suspicious packages. The Explosive Ordnance Disposal Team went to work and in short order, they declared the backpack to be safe. It was then x-rayed and at that point, the security officers began to get excited about the contents of the bag.
Excited officers had witnesses as the bag revealed in excess of ฿13 million in gold
A range of witnesses were called to be present as the bag was opened up. This included officers from the airport police, immigration, customs as well as NokAir personnel. When they opened it, they found it divided into 24 ziplocked bags each containing miniatures bags of gold. The backpack all totalled, contained over 10.3 kg of high-quality gold which in Thailand is 23-carat gold or 96.5% pure. The backpack’s contents were worth in excess of ฿13 million which could easily be realised without trace, by selling each piece at gold shops around the country. A fortune in a backpack.
Gold is like money in Thailand and is used by many people as a hedge against unpredictable events
The contents of the bag were all itemized and categorised so it was clear that the owner was involved in the ongoing trade and sale of gold which is a big industry in Thailand with gold shops in every town and population centre. Gold is used by people at all levels of society as a form of savings and hedge against unfavourable times much in the same way as international investors do when markets become unpredictable rather like the times right now with markets embroiled in trade wars and political tensions worldwide. Nearly all gold in Thailand is stamped and once it is, it can be bought or sold at nearly every shop which trades in the yellow stuff. They make a profit by charging a commission for the exchange. In this way, gold is as good as money in the kingdom except right now, at least in the short term, it is also a good investment.
Thai businesswoman, the owner of the bag of gold reappeared in the airport at 1 pm
At 1 pm as authorities at the airport fulminated about the consequences of the package, its owner suddenly reappeared. She was a 35-year-old Thai businesswoman who was candid and open with officers in explaining what had happened. She had forgotten the backpack in the rush to make the flight to Bangkok. The woman was interviewed at length by curious officials at the airport and police. She asked the authorities not to reveal her name as it may compromise her security.
Signed a police statement and she was on her way
The gold was being carried by its owner within Thailand so police concluded that there was no overt breach of the law involved. The woman was sent to the local police station to provide information and sign a sworn statement. Police had earlier verified that she was the same woman dressed in the same clothes who left the bag behind from airport CCTV footage. The bag including the gold was returned to her and she was again on her way.