At 6:15pm yesterday, Lt Col Suchart Singha of the Chalong Police was informed that a group of beggars were operating at Wat Chalong Fair.
At 7pm, after learning about the allegations, Phuket Provincial Police Commander Maj Gen Teeraphol Thipjaroen together with Col Chukiet Imjaitham and Lt Col Parinya Tanthasuwan of the Chalong Police, Mr Natthatwat Khwanpan from the Phuket Provincial Social Development and Security Office and Mr Suphawatthagun Khunnaluck of Chalong Municipality went to the area to carry out an inspection to see if they could find the beggars.
Soon after they found a man with a disability to his left leg, who they assumed was part of the team, and took him to quiet area to question and search him.
During the search officials found that the man, named as Mr Hokjai Saeong, 67, from Phuket, had a bag containing coins and B20 notes totalling approximately B1,000 in his possession.
“I only have this money with me,” Mr Hokjai told officials.
However, after searching Mr Hokjai further, Mr Suphawatthagun discovered an unusual bulge around his waist.
As soon as officials tried to touch the bulge Mr Hokjai pushed their hands away.
It was then found that Mr Hokjai had several bags containing cash strapped around his waist.
Officials asked Mr Hokjai to remove the bags, which at first he was reluctant to do. However, he finally removed the bags and officials discovered it was 13 bags containing equal amounts of money.
After counting all the bags of money officials found the cash totalled no less than B100,000.
Maj Gen Teeraphol said, “We discovered that Mr Hokjai was not actually a beggar as we first believed but was in fact a homeless man who sold old and disused items and that this was how he collected all the money.
“He told us that as he is homeless he has to carry the money on him all the time,” he said.
“As we were concerned that he might lose or have the money stolen we first took him to the Mit Maitri Home Phuket temporary shelter and then to open a bank account,” Maj Gen Teeraphol added.