It follows photo and video evidence of foreigners doing the same thing in Patong and Kata in December, after local expats snapped the footage and sent it to The Phuket News. One female foreigner was doing it at Swensens at Kata Beach, while a male foreigner was at a bar/restaurant on Patong Beach.
The Phuket News was sent video footage (view the video here) by a reader last night of a foreigner inside a restaurant at Central Festival, dropping small cards on the restaurant tables saying he was deaf and asking customers to buy Angry Birds keychains for B100 – or to make a donation. A few minutes later he walked back collecting the keychains, cards and any donations. Not long after, a Phuket News reporter saw the same man inside Pizza Company in the shopping mall, doing the same thing.
When alerted to the video footage, Pol Maj Urumporn Koondejsumrit, an inspector with the Tourist Police, told The Phuket News he planned to send a team down to Central Festival tonight to investigate.
During the raid, at least one foreigner was spotted and followed by a security guard, and was arrested by the Tourist Police officers outside Swensens at 6.30pm tonight. No other details were available.
Earlier today, Central Festival issued a statement quoting Vice President Property Management & General Manager, Wilaiporn Pitimanaaree.
“No one is allowed to distribute, offer for sale of products and services anywhere on the premises without prior notice and approval from Central Festival Phuket (CFP) management," Ms Wilaiporn said.
"The individuals concerned did not request permission and were not authorized by CFP to operate at the mall. We have taken steps to immediately stamp out any further incidents of this nature. We have tightened security and placed notices around the mall.
"All tenants are being advised on how to deal with anyone caught soliciting donations, and we will collect evidence of any offenders so details can be handed over to local police if necessary. We ask that anyone who encounters such a situation while visiting Central Festival Phuket inform security immediately.”
Thai law states that if the foreigners are collecting funds on behalf of a charity, the charity must be a licensed Thai foundation and the foreigner must have a work permit. If they are not with a registered Thai charity then they are begging, which is illegal.