34-year-old Sittichok Muangma was arrested on Tuesday for the armed robbery heist on Monday morning outside the Bangkok Bank branch in Chiang Saen when he snatched ฿1.05 million from an agricultural co-op employee. Mr Sittichok told police he committed the crime to pay gambling debts.
Police on Tuesday confirmed that they had arrested the main suspect in the bank heist outside a Bangkok Bank branch in the Chiang Saen district of Chiang Rai in which two men on a motorbike drove off with ฿1.05 million in cash. On Wednesday, police revealed that only ฿200,000 has been recovered and that the key suspect had already spent ฿800,000 to pay back his gambling debts.
Thai police have arrested and charged a 34-year old man in connection with Monday’s armed robbery outside a bank in the Chiang Saen district of Chiang Rai.
The man has been named by police spokesman Police Colonel Krishna Pattanacharoen of the Royal Thai Police in Bangkok as Mr Sittichok Muangma also known as Aiw.
Arrest in the same district of Chiang Saen by police on Tuesday after they tracked down the weapon
He was arrested in the Chiang Saen district on Tuesday, south of the robbery scene, after Thai police initially tracked down the gun that was used in the heist.
Mr Sittichok had returned the firearm to the individual after the robbery and the gun’s owner identified him to investigating officers.
A warrant for his arrest was subsequently issued by the Chiang Rai Provincial Court.
Police Colonel Sottasak Pimolthip of Chiang Saen Police Station on Monday ordered patrols within an extended perimeter of the incident and a close examination of CCTV footage.
This led police to their lead.
Motorbike driver still at large as Thai national police chief issues warning to accomplices
It is understood that the man’s accomplice who drove the blue Honda Wave motorbike in the robbery is still at large with police on his tail.
In Bangkok, on Tuesday, the National Chief and Director General of the Royal Thai Police, Major General Chakthip Chaijinda, revealed that he is taking a personal interest in the case.
He warned relatives or those involved in assisting anyone in criminal activity, that this is also a serious offence and in particular those who may be hiding the second wanted suspect.
Robber initially denied any knowledge of the crime
Reports from Chiang Saen suggest that when the 24-year-old Mr Sittichok was first arrested, he initially denied any knowledge of the heist.
Police managed to change his mind and he confessed that he had planned and executed the robbery.
Accused is an ex-employee of the agricultural co-op
Police also discovered that he was an ex-employee of the Chiang Saen Agricultural Cooperative and was aware that the money was withdrawn from various banks on an almost daily basis.
He also was aware that the person connected with such withdrawals was an accountant with the cooperative and secretarial assistant, 46-year-old Mrs Watcharin Banjong, from whose hands he snatched the ฿1.05 million on Monday morning last.
Gang monitored the co-op executive’s movement before making their move on Monday morning
It is understood that the armed robber followed the unsuspecting co-operative employee for some time to determine her routine before he eventually pounced.
Police have retrieved ฿200,000 of the money stolen.
Mr Sittichok told police that he had already used ฿800,000 to pay off pressing gambling debts that may well have been the fuse for this rash, criminal act.
Gambling is a key driver of crime
Police in Thailand have long warned that the country’s chronic gambling addiction problem is a key driver of serious crime.
The accused man was brought before the court on the arrest warrant this Wednesday and is facing criminal prosecution for armed robbery.
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