Motorcycle Helmets In Pattaya
by Mr. E
For about the last month the police here in Pattaya have been vigorously enforcing the laws which require both driver and passenger on motorbikes to each wear a helmet. Failure to do so results in spot fines or tea money of Bt200 even for Thais. It seems to have been a very successful and safety conscious intervention AND a nice little earner OR both depending on your point of view. It’s a very sensible requirement and many ex-pats in the past, including me, had questioned why only the driver was required to wear a helmet. SO I bought a second helmet at Bt300 so as the equip my passenger and also avoid paying tea money. And in truth for safety I should have always had 2. Anyway that purchase was 3 weeks ago. In the past 2 weeks I have purchased 2 more. Why???? Because 3 new helmets have now been stolen from my parked bike. Total value around Bt 900.
On the 3rd occasion I had been parked in the early hours on Walking Street. I was next to a motorcycle taxi rank and deliberately outside a busy Family Mart. On discovering my loss I asked those around if they had seen anything because my new and possibly effective helmet had been stolen. I was greeted with total hostility. I was told it was my own fault for leaving my bike there too long- about 4 hours. One Thai man even physically got hold of me briefly. My spoken Thai is not good but passable. My reluctant conclusion was that they were all feeling (a little) guilty because those sitting around had all participated in the new helmets disappearance at least by bearing silent witness to its theft.
So on principle I went to the police box at the beginning of Walking St and told the officer there. He told me it was my own fault for not locking my helmet to my bike. No crime report was made. I then went to the main police station and was told the same thing. No one was interested in a reported crime and its details. What I really wanted was for the police to simply ask those outside the Family Mart what if anything they had seen and see the reaction of those so asked. The amount involved of Bt300 each time well exceeds average local daily wages.
I suppose I cannot argue with the logic of the Police. Yes sure, I should have locked not just one helmet but 2 to the motorbike. How is another issue yet to be resolved? The issue for me here is why it’s necessary to do so. All have been expected to have one helmet for drivers for the last 3 years that I’ve been here. And during this time I’ve never had a helmet stolen and never locked it to the bike. Now that the law has changed, the police seem unsurprised that 3 of mine have been stolen and seem to think that the responsibility for the thefts is mine because I didn’t lock them to my bike. BUT I NEVER DID BEFORE AND IT WAS NEVER STOLEN. What about the thief’s responsibility?
I remember the time in English villages when one never locked one's door. Then times changed as city dwellers sallied forth to rob rural homes. It enforced a change in custom and practice and maybe that’s what’s happening here…
I suppose the situation in Pattaya will even itself out eventually. Many Thais will buy a second helmet and a few will steal them until all have 2 helmets. I would love the police to collate reports of stolen helmets in Pattaya to see the frequency of stolen ex-pats helmets v. those of Thai people. I am suspicious after the reaction of those around the Family Mart that its ex-pats that are deemed to be wealthy enough to sponsor motorcycle helmet provision in Pattaya via theft. "Why you worry, you money too much" ?? OR maybe the custom of robbing ex- pats of their helmets or scaringly anything else will be confirmed as the new and expanding practice.
It's clearly wrong for people to steal, but in a country like Thailand I believe it is asking for trouble if you do not secure your valuables.