The three men including Mr Dan, the ‘hiding kangaroo’ were picked up of the streets by police in random checks and arrested by officers deploying the new smart car technology which plugs them into Thailand rapidly growing and ever more sophisticated database technology.

An Immigration police patrol or new smart car announced the arrest of a 63-year-old Australian man on Valentine’s Day by dubbing him the ‘hiding kangaroo’ as the police put to use their new BMW smart cars. Thailand’s Immigration Bureau in Chonburi further highlighted the success of the new high tech vehicles with the arrest of a disabled Belgian man near a hospital and the detection of a Sudanese foreigner found to be living in Pattaya illegally. All were picked up and held at various police stations before being sent on for the extended process of deportation which usually involves a length of time spent in a Thai prison or detention centre.

One of the new highly advanced BMW smart cars (left) that have inbuilt alerts and tracking systems as well a live connection to database-driven information now being employed by the Thai police and linked to the country’s biometric system. The new cars have been deployed in Thailand in recent weeks and last week saw the arrest of a 57-year-old disabled man from Belgium using a walking frame for mobility (right inset) near Burapha University Hospital. It also saw the arrest of a 54-year old Sudanese national lifted from the sidewalk in Pattaya. In Sisaket (inset bottom right) a 63-year old Australian reportedly dubbed the ‘hiding kangaroo’ by local immigration officers was nabbed on the side the road and taken away into custody after being reported to immigration authorities by the public.

Thailand’s Immigration police have launched into action their much-vaunted BMW smart cars to take their crackdown on illegal and undesirable foreigners living in the kingdom to a whole new level.

On Thursday last, the day before Valentine’s Day, one of the newly introduced cars with its onboard computer and alert system was dispatched to the area around Burapha University hospital in the coastal town of Saen Suk in Chonburi province.

Confidence in the new crime-fighting tool

The exercise to highlight this new crime-fighting tool and raise the confidence of the public was ordered by senior officers at Chonburi immigration including the Deputy Director of the Immigration Bureau for the province, Lieutenant General Nares Thanasatisatid.

Belgian man nabbed in routine check near a hospital

The patrol car was operating in the area on the Long Beach road behind the Burapha University hospital when a foreigner was observed and stopped for a routine check.

The man was named by police is Mr Philip Kloud. He suffered from a walking disability for which he needs a steel walking frame.

57 year old overstayed his visa by 85 days

The 57-year-old was found to have overstayed his visa permit by 85 days and was arrested on the spot and dispatched to Saen Suk police station where he will be prosecuted and subsequently deported.

This usually involves the arrested person being sent to either a remand facility in Bangkok or the notorious Bangkok Immigration detention facility in the central Sathorn area of Bangkok.

Orders from the top to highlight the new smart cars now being deployed by the Immigration Bureau

Earlier in the week, Immigration Bureau police were highlighting the directive from Big Oud, the Immigration boss Lieutenant General Sompong Chingduang, to make full use of the state of the art BMW smart cars.

Sudanese man caught up in the sweep

Police demonstrated to the media the use of the car in Pattaya where a 54-year Sudanese man was picked off the street and found to be living in Thailand illegally.

He was named only at Imadh M and was arrested and sent to Pattaya police station to face similar deportation proceedings.

Arrest in Sisaket province in northeastern Thailand

The activities and rollout of the new smart cars are not confined to Chonburi or even the provinces which are known to be popular with foreigners.

In the northeastern province of Sisaket, the new smart car detected another illegal foreigner, this time in the remote district of Kantharalak, on the border with Cambodia.

Mr Dan the ‘hiding kangaroo’ had his stay in Thailand abruptly cut short after being stopped on the road

There, the game was up for another foreigner, 63-year-old Mr Dan from Australia. He was stopped in the Khanun Subdistrict at a place called Ban Na Sai.

Thai Immigration police officers ran a check on their system and found that the Australian, jocularly dubbed by amused police officers as Dan the ‘hiding kangaroo’ had overstayed his visa permit by no less than 356 days.

Once the smart car had his identity after he was stopped on the roadside, it was life in Thailand over for the elderly man.

His arrest followed intelligence which had been sent to the immigration bureau officers by concerned locals. They had reported the ‘farang’ who had aroused suspicion.

Police in the southeastern province suspected that Mr Dan had considered that by keeping to the quiet rural district and not venturing into the city areas he was safe from detection, but no longer.

Arrested and sent to Phong police station

The Australian man, after his arrest, was sent to Phong police station where he may also later be sent to Bangkok and his eventual deportation from Thailand at his own expense which is often, for those arrested by immigration police officers, a lot more expensive than normal budget airline fees and immensely more difficult to organise from behind bars where many immigration offenders enjoy an extended stay until their deportation is allowed and then finalised.

Smart cars in the spotlight of corruption claims made by former Immigration Bureau boss Big Joke

The new smart cars are part of an elaborate investment made by the immigration bureau in the last few years which became the subject of some controversy together with the new biometric system when questioned by former Immigration Bureau chief Lieutenant General Surchate Hapkarn or Big Joke his year. 

The latter was reported to have appeared last month to give evidence before a hearing of the National Anti Corruption Commission on the matter.

Since then, Thailand’s immigration bureau and its current leadership have upheld both investments as highly effective in the quest to make the country safe for Thai nationals and foreigners who abide by Thailand’s laws.

Law-abiding foreigners have nothing to fear

The Immigration Bureau has underlined this week that foreigners with the appropriate visas have nothing to fear from the ongoing crackdown.

However, with a new emphasis on spot checks without warning, it should be noted that foreigners are required by law in Thailand to have their passport and appropriate visa stamps ready for inspection, at any time, by a police officer. 

A photocopied document will suffice in most situations provided it clearly shows all the relevant immigration stamps and permits to satisfy officers that everything is in order.

Crackdown continues against undesirable and illegal foreigners using mobile new technology

The current Immigration Bureau Chief promised last year an ongoing crackdown to rid Thailand of undesirable elements would continue and grow more intensive.

The arrival of the smart cars this week extends database-driven screening to the streets and every corner of the kingdom severely reducing the odds for those breaking the country’s immigration laws and hoping to get away with it.

Hotline being used to oust unwelcome guests

The Thai public is being asked to phone and report all suspicious foreigners using a hotline on 1178.

Since last year, there is some evidence that this line is being used by Thai locals who have issues or disagreements with foreigners such as the case of US teacher Patricia Pelin, arrested in the Saraphi district of Chiang Mai last November after being reported by several business people in the city with whom she quarrelled.

Visa expired well beyond its permission date in Thailand puts foreigners in a nightmare position

It also raises the question as to what options foreigners have in Thailand if they already find themselves well beyond the date that they are permitted to stay.

One clear answer is that anyone found breaking Thailand’s immigration laws is subject to being treated as a criminal and risks being jailed quite often in appalling conditions.

The harrowing story of Kai Issacs who was advised by the UK embassy to surrender to immigration authorities early last year is worth reading (see link below). It is certainly not simply a matter of reporting and then being deported home.

There is also the case of 60-year-old Laszlo Balogh arrested on the 24th of January last by police at Suvarnabhumi Airport as he attempted to fly home for overstaying his visa.

He was found dead on the following Sunday at an airport holding facility (see link below).

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Further reading:

Crackdown on illegal foreigners sees American teacher arrested in class and Russian at his restaurant lunch

Visitors warned of the deadly danger of working in Thailand without a proper visa and valid work permit

UK man claims FBI investigating the death of 41-year-old American held at Thai immigration jail in May

Elderly Hungarian arrested at Suvarnabhumi for a visa overstay offence found dead in a holding cell

Visitors warned of the deadly danger of working in Thailand without a proper visa and valid work permit

Immigration boss warns that a new crackdown on foreigners flouting Thai laws has begun