The arrest was revealed yesterday but formally announced at Phuket City Police Station earlier today (Oct 28) by Region 8 Police Commander Pol Lt Gen Amphol Buarabporn, accompanied by Region 8 Deputy Commander Maj Gen Saksira Phuak-am.
Of note, Pol Lt Gen Amphol was previously Commander of Provincial Police Region 1, initially in charge of the manhunt for Prasittichai Khaokaew, the former director of a primary school in Sing Buri province who shot dead three people, including a 2-year-old boy, during the robbery of a gold shop inside the Robinson shopping mall in Lop Buri in January.
At the press conference at Phuket City Police Station today, much of the explanation about the robbery, attack and arrest by Lt Gen Amphol confirmed, corrected and clarified many details that have previously been released to the press.
Phuket City Police were first informed of the robbery at 11:30pm on Saturday. Officers were informed that a criminal had climbed up onto the roof of the Thong Thaweechai gold shop on Ranong Rd and entered the building on the second floor by removing a ceiling tile.
The robber then walked down to the first floor (elsewhere called the ground floor) of the house where he saw the owners of the house, an elderly man and woman sitting watching television.
The couple, Wangdee Inthawong, 71, and Puangpen Sakkasemkrit, 65, lived upstairs from the shop, which is located near the Suriyadej Circle and the Downtown Market area in central Phuket Town.
When the couple saw the robber, the man attacked the two victims. He beat Mr Wangdee on the head with a piece of wood that he had taken from the kitchen upstairs, where he also took a large knife that he had on him during the attack.
The robber, now publicly identified as Myanmar national Chai Aung, 26, bound the couple’s hands and feet with wire and threatened to beat Ms Puangpen if they did not open the safe. of note, Chai aung’s Thai driver’s license identifies him as “Shine Aung”.
Ms Puangpen relented, but while he was removing the horde of gold jewellery from the safe, she threw a chair into him. Chai Aung responded angrily, and beat Ms Puangpen on the head with the piece of wood. Ms Puangpen suffered serious injuries, it was explained, but her exact medical condition was not revealed.
Chai Aung stole many items of jewellery such as gold necklaces, gold rings, gold bracelets, along with “a certain amount of cash” and fled. Police yesterday confirmed that the cash stolen amounted to B100,000.
Due to the severity of the attack and the amount stolen, now confirmed to have been more than B10.6 million in gold items, in addition to the cash stolen, Lt Gen Amphol ordered police to bring the criminal to justice as quickly as possible, as it had become of great interest to the public.
Lt Gen Amphol took the opportunity today to promote the ‘Old Phuket Town Smart Safety Zone 4.0’ project underway to make the heart of Phuket Town a safe haven for local residents and tourists, as previously announced by national police chief Pol Gen Suwat Jangyodsuk in Phuket in person late last month.
From CCTV footage provided by local police, Phuket City Municipality and local businesses, officers tracked Chai Aung making his escape on a black Honda Scoopy I motorcycle to a residence at a car care centre on Wichit Songkram Rd, in Tambon Talad Neua, still in Phuket Town.
At 8:30am Tuesday (Oct 26), officers armed with an arrest warrant moved in and arrested Chai Aung.
During questioning Chai Aung confessed to committing the robbery and the assault on the elderly couple, who live upstairs as caretakers of the building that houses the gold shop. They are not the owners, the press were told today.
Officers searched Chai Aung’s rented room and recovered the stolen jewellery, reported as “363 bahtweight” of gold. At current gold prices, the haul was worth B10,668,570. Officers also recovered B33,600 from the room.
Chai Aung confessed that he needed the money to pay online gambling debts. He said he had the gold shop under surveillance for two nights before deciding late on Saturday that it was time to rob the gold shop.
He blamed his addiction to online gambling and having no money to his debts as his motivation for the robbery and the attack on the elderly couple.
Police have yet to confirm the exact charges Chai Aung will face.
Lt Gen Amphol today urged all gold shop owners to increase security measures at the premises to prevent similar violent robberies.
Benjaporn Watcharatsiriyuth, the owner of the Thong Thaweechai gold shop, presented a basket of flowers to Lt Gen Amphol as a thank you for police being able to track down and arrest Chai Aung in just three days and for recovering the gold, and the cash that remained unspent by Chai Aung.
Ms Benjaporn yesterday told the press that she would increase security measures at the gold shop to prevent any further similar robberies.