Around 5pm yesterday (January 2), the Dane went to Kamala police station and reported that at about 1.45 am on New Year’s Day, after going to the New Year countdown he went for a walk along the sand, and was attacked in the darkness at the north end of the beach.
He said there were five Thai men one of whom grabbed him from behind while the rest hit him.
He said the gang stole his B95,000 Omega watch, a couple of golden bracelets valued at B20,600, an iPhone5 costing B29,150 plus a credit card in his wallet. After robbing him, he said, the gang threw him into the sea then escaped into the darkness.
After Kamala police checked beachfront CCTV footage and questioned beach vendors, the Dane was called for a second interview at Kamala police station.
Pol Lt Col Nanon Pitakkuntorn of Kamala police said that there several points that made Berthelsen’s account suspect.
First, the “victim” is “a big guy” about 180-190 cm tall, and police felt it would be difficult for a Thai to grab him and hold him while others hit him. There were also many people on the beach at the time, making it unlikely that he could have been attacked without anyone noticing.
A much more telling point was that police found that the tide was in at 1 am, and if Berthelsen had been walking at the north end of the beach at that time, he would have been neck-deep in water.
Officers therefore checked CCTV footage at the Swissotel Phuket, Berthelsen was staying with his family.
At the time he was supposedly being robbed, he was filmed talking with staff at the front desk, after which he went to his room with a foreign girl.
They also noted that they could see from the footage that he was wearing his Omega watch.
Presented with these facts and with the CCTV fooage, Berthelsen confessed he had made up the story in order to get a police report so that he could make a false claim on his insurance in Denmark.
“This may not seem like a big story,” said Pol Lt Col Suppawit Suwanpirom. “But if we had not been able to prove that what he said was a lie, it could have badly damaged the island’s tourism image.”
Berthelsen appeared in court this afternoon to plead guilty.
Police in Phuket take a dim view of such reports. In July last year Australian Stevie Bamford served two weeks in jail after police were able to show that her claim she had been raped by three men in a tuk-tuk was false.
It turned out that she made the report in order to avoid the wrath of her boyfriend when she stayed out later than him in Patong.
In November 2011 an Australian couple, Abdul Karim Al-Rajab and Zeidan Nouha, were arrested for making a phony robbery report. Like Berthelsen, they were planning to defraud their insurance company. They were fined and kicked out of Thailand.