Vietnamese duo arrested for targeting tourists at the Grand Palace in Metropolitan Police crackdown. Japanese tourist’s bag was snatched and ฿459,670 was charged by the pair with their credit card swipe machine. Tourists urged to stay vigilant in the capital as police up their game and tighten security for visitors.

Police in Bangkok this week warned about a renewed danger of pickpocketing at key tourist attractions. It came after two Vietnamese tourists were arrested. This followed a series of incidents including a bag snatched from a Japanese tourist on December 30th. It took place at the famous Temple of the Emerald Buddha at the Grand Palace.

Police Major General Noppasin Poolsawat of the Metropolitan Police Bureau and top officers with the force on Tuesday briefed the media. This was following the arrest of the Vietnamese pair (inset). Both entered Thailand on tourist visas, one by land from Cambodia and the other by air.

In a significant operation, this week, Thai police in Bangkok smashed a Vietnamese criminal pair engaged in pickpocketing. The crew were responsible for a spate of thefts targeting foreign tourists at popular temples across the capital. 

The response by the Royal Thai Police led to the arrest of two suspects, Mr Vo Van Dung and Ms Le Thi Ngoc Linh. They face charges of theft and pickpocketing.

The crackdown was ordered by Police General Torsak Sukwimol, the national police commissioner.

Top Metropolitan Police Bureau officers tasked with suppressing a rash of incidents in recent times where foreign thieves targeted unsuspecting tourists 

He emphasised the importance of ensuring the safety of people and their belongings in tourist areas. Key directives were issued to high-ranking officers. 

These included Police Lieutenant General Thiti Saengsaeng and Police Major General Noppasin Poolsawat of the Metropolitan Police Bureau. Among other directives, they were tasked with investigating and addressing a rise in incidents of pickpocketing targeting tourists.

The arrests came in the wake of a specific incident on December 30, 2023, at Wat Phra Kaew. Wat Phra Kaew is also known as the Temple of the Emerald Buddha. It is located within Bangkok’s Grand Palace. 

At length, four thieves targeted a Japanese tourist, Mr Shuji Takato. In brief, he fell victim to a brazen bag snatch. 

Vietnamese duo took cash and credit cards which they promptly used to make charges amounting to ฿459,670

The criminals stole cash, credit cards, and a Japanese driver’s licence. Afterwards, they charged the credit cards for unauthorised transactions amounting to ฿459,670.42.

CCTV footage analysis revealed the criminals’ movements. In short, this led authorities to Soi Phetchaburi 17, Soi Phetchaburi 19, and Pracharat Bamphen Road. The group attempted another theft but failed before dispersing and returning to their accommodation.

On January 14, 2024, Mr Vo Van Dung and Ms Le Thi Ngoc Linh were detected by police.

Two suspects resembling the criminals caught on camera, were spotted at tourist attractions in the Thonburi area.

Following police questioning, the duo consented to a search of their premises, leading to the discovery of incriminating items. These include a card-swiping machine and a cutter knife.

Arrest warrants issued for Vietnamese tourists who were subsequently detained and face charges of theft with one of them facing an Immigration charge

Based on the evidence collected, the police sought and obtained arrest warrants from the Criminal Court. The charges against the pair included ‘jointly stealing property in temples, monasteries, and places of religious reverence’. 

In addition, there was an immigration charge against Ms Le Thi Ngoc Linh for residing in the Kingdom without proper authorisation.

The suspects were subsequently arrested and taken into custody to face legal proceedings.

After that, further enquiries into the travel history of the two revealed that Mr Vo Van Dung and Ms Le Thi Ngoc Linh were tourists.

Both Vietnamese nationals had entered the Kingdom multiple times. Notably, Ms Le Thi Ngoc Linh, in the meantime, had overstayed by 85 days beyond her permitted period.

At length, Mr Van Diung entered Thailand no less than 49 times. Previously, he arrived in Thailand by land at Sa Kaeo Province from Cambodia. This was the 10th of January 2024. He received a 30-day tourist visa.

Similarly, Ms Ngoc Linh was also in Thailand on a tourist visa. However, she last entered Thailand on September 22nd 2023 via Suvarnabhumi Airport. In the meantime, her visa expired on the 21st of October 2023. 

Police were impressed by the tactics and craftiness of the pair involved in the case. Officers did well but certainly, foreign tourists must be vigilant against such threats

Police Major General Noppasin highlighted the sophistication of the criminal group’s tactics.

Significantly, they incorporated modern methods such as using a credit card swipe machine for immediate transactions. Certainly, the Thai police, in this case, proved agile and adaptable to the threat. 

The top policeman explained that officers swiftly tracked down the thieves and prevented their potential escape from the country.

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At the same time, police are asking the public and foreign tourists to be vigilant. The case highlights the threat posed to Thailand by incoming tourists from neighbouring countries. 

Thailand, as foreign tourism again rises, is a ripe target

In the past, criminal elements have been detected from Malaysia, China, Cambodia, Laos and Myanmar.

The relative ease of travel to Thailand via regional airlines with low fares and the range of inexpensive accommodation makes Bangkok a target for such crime gangs. In effect, they can fly in and out at will. 

At the same time, wealthy tourists from rich countries, across the capital, provide attractive marks for criminals.

As foreign tourism in Thailand recovers, the kingdom again, becomes a ripe target for such elements.

Simultaneously, top police officers warned all foreign tourists to exercise caution when travelling within the city. Especially at well-known foreign tourist attractions such as temples and in particular, the Grand Palace.

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