Phuket Provincial Police Commander Maj Gen Wisan Panmanee announced the arrests at Phuket City Police Station this morning (Sept 6), while putting on display some of the 26 cars so far recovered during the police investigation.
The police began their investigation on Aug 26, when nine victims reported the scam and filed a joint complaint to Phuket Provincial Police Investigation Chief Col Prawit Engsuan, Gen Wisan explained.
The complainants said that Methawee Thamachantha, his girlfriend Chanida Ratseng, and his elder sister Thamonwan Thamchantha together had asked people to provide their cars, which would in turn be rented out in Phuket.
However, the trio then sold or pawned the cars in Trang, Phattalung and Nakhon Sri Thammarat, the victims noted in their complaint.
The three had acquired some 40 to 50 cars provided by local residents and local car rental operators in Phuket, the group said.
A joint investigation led by Maj Suchart Chumpuseng of the Phuket Provincial Police, joined by Phuket City Police crime analysis officers, saw arrest warrants for the three suspects issued by Phuket Provincial Court for the charge of theft.
Officers tracked down Methawee and Chanida staying at a house in Huai Yot, in Trang province, where they were arrested on Wednesday (Sept 4), Gen Wisan said.
Thamonwan was arrested in Phuket yesterday, he added.
All three were taken to Phuket City Police Station and charged.
All three were charged with theft as member of a group, while Methawee faces and additional charge of committing theft during the nighttime, Gen Wisan explained.
However, Gen Wisan added, “After the cars were sold or pawned, the suspects used the money to pay the people who had provided their cars to be rented out.”
Col Prawit also explained, “Because the three always paid (their clients) on time, the operators (people who provided the cars) trusted them and let them rent more cars.
“Some of the victims got their cars back and did not report it to the police for prosecution, so this crime continued to happen. If police could not close this case quickly, there would have been a lot more victims,” he added.
“Police have already recovered 26 cars, but we are still searching for the rest,” Co Prawit said.