A 38-year-old Australian woman named only as Ms Emily Catherine was arrested on Wednesday at a hotel in Chiang Mai. She admits she was the woman in CCTV footage seen acting in a shamefully dishonest manner while committing theft. A US woman from Washington State convicted of a similar offence in 2018 in the northern town of Pai spent 6 months in Mae Hong Son provincial prison.
An Australian shoplifter has been nabbed by the Black Hawk detective unit in Chiang Mai after she was caught red-handed stealing sunglasses and a handbag from a gift shop in the city on June 10th last.
Police in Chiang Mai on Wednesday caught up with a 38-year-old Australian woman who allegedly committed theft at a shop in the Nawarat Market located in the Chang Moi area in the heart of the city on June 10th last.
The woman has been named as Ms Emily Catherine although it appears from police reports that these may only be the forenames on the accused’s passport.
Suspected of stealing sunglasses and a handbag valued at ฿450 from small family run business
The woman is suspected of having stolen three pairs of sunglasses and a silver-blue woman’s bag at the store valued at ฿450. She is also accused by police of using a vehicle to escape the scene of the crime which in Thai law makes her liable to an increased sentence of up to half the applicable term.
She has been charged by police with theft including the use of a conveyance.
Theft of private property is a crime taken very seriously in Thailand and on conviction, Ms Emily can expect to be spending time in a Thai prison.
The prison term for theft is up to 3 years but in this case, there are both extenuating and aggravating circumstances. The former being the relatively minor value of the goods taken from the store.
The business appears to be a family-run concern, like most in Thailand, already suffering for the Covid 19 downturn in the economy.
US woman in 2018 served 6 months in Mae Hong Son prison for a nearly identical offence
In 2018, a 25-year-old US woman, Emilia Semrau, from Olympia in Washington state, was arrested by Thai police for shoplifting in Pai, a town in northern Mae Hong Son province popular with foreign tourists.
She was sentenced to 6 months in prison on conviction by a local court for a similar theft offence at a gift shop in the tourist town.
The US woman later served her full term in Mae Hong Son provincial prison after being told by US consular officials that there was no alternative.
Amazingly, she later wrote about her experience as being a positive and beneficial one for her.
She said that she was treated strictly but fairly and used her term behind bars to take mental stock of her life.
Apprehended by the Black Hawk Detective unit
On Wednesday, Ms Emily was apprehended by the famous Black Hawk Detective unit in Chiang Mai after they obtained her identity using images from the CCTV footage from the shop on June 10th.
They tracked her down to a hotel Sam Lan Road in the Phra Sing sub-district of the city. The woman had been staying at the hotel for some time.
Police also released the CCTV footage from the shop.
It shows the blonde-haired Australian woman behaving in a dishonest and deceptive manner as she asks the staff about the products while quietly, over a period of time, slipping the sunglasses into her white shoulder canvas bag.
Staff followed the woman from the shop but the thief made off in a white Bangkok registered car
Staff at the shop later noticed the missing products and on inspecting the security footage, went after her.
They came upon the woman just as she entered a white Toyota Prius car with a Bangkok registration plate.
On Wednesday, police photographed the criminal suspect with a charge sheet and the stolen items as well as the clothing found in her possession which matched the culprit on the CCTV footage.
The 38-year-old Ms Emily admitted to officers that she was the person in the film acting in such a shameful manner.
Police will now pursue legal proceedings against the Australian woman although, under Thai law, if the offender pays adequate compensation, there are certain circumstances in which charges may not be pursued if prosecutors, with the agreement of those reporting the crime, consider it serves the public good.