Beware Thieves on Sukhumvit
I'm sure many are aware of the thieves on Sukhumvit but I just thought I would share my views on it. I live in Phrom Pong and walk down to Nana or Asoke 3 or 4 times every week, and I can assure people that the number of thieves and the levels of aggression are both increasing.
The hot spot is certainly near Asoke BTS between Soi 19 and Soi 21 intersection after 1 AM. They hang around at the foot of the BTS steps where it is most difficult to pass. Ladyboys are the biggest offender but ordinary girls are at it too.
My advice to people may go against the grain in Thailand, but under no circumstances be nice or friendly to these people – IT DOESN'T WORK!! You have to be firm and when you see one approaching tell them not to touch you and really look like you mean it. Raise your voice if necessary, however DO NOT tell them to "fuck off" or you may inflame the situation towards violence.
If you have to get physical, don't throw punches. On Saturday night around 3 AM (at Asoke BTS) I was very aggressively hassled, to the point where I grabbed "IT" by the shoulders and moved "IT" away from me, while telling "IT" in no uncertain terms to leave me alone. One of its friends came over and asked "Why you push my friend?", but I just walked off. A moment or two later I heard someone getting quite upset, and turned round to see the same creatures all over an elderly gentleman. He was really getting quite panicky so I went back and told them to get away from him and this time I did shout, receiving some very pouty looks in return.
However this was not the end of my Saturday night hassle. There even seem to be kids in the age range of about 8 -14 hanging around Sukhumvit road, near Soi 22. They are carrying something in plastic bags (though I don't know what) and try the old routine of sticking the bags in your chest, no doubt with the intention of distracting you in order to pick you clean. Again, be very firm when you see them coming and if they get too close, push them away (not violently). These are horrible little kids and I actually feel like punching them more than the ladyboys.
Even last night my wife was walking to the BTS with my son when some Thai snatched a bag from a western woman in front of her. However, what was good about this was the fact that Thai market sellers chased the thief and gave him a good kicking. What was even more worrying was that a market seller warned my wife (who is Thai) not to keep any valuable in her handbag as there are many thefts there each week. Also people are having chains ripped from their neck!
Personally, I think this is a problem that is going to get much worse to the point of becoming dangerous. I lived in Belfast during the troubles, so I am not easily perturbed. However, I reckon that the worsening economic situation all over is going to increase desperation for money and this I fear will lead to more desperate measures to get money.
Personally, I have not yet feared for my personal safety, but my biggest worry is maybe losing my cool, whacking someone and then getting the sh1t kicked out of me. I love walking home in the cooler times and it's the only thing that keeps me slim on my unhealthy weekend diet. However, I've always believed in percentages and the more I walk that walk, eventually something bad is going to happen to me.
1) Don't bring credit cards out with you, unless you're only going for a meal.
2) Don't bring any more cash than you need for a normal night out. I would suggest not even to take an ATM card but some nights can get a bit wild and extra funds may be needed!
3) When walking home, put everything in the one pocket – keys, money, cards and don't take your hand out of that pocket. If wearing jeans keep it in the front pockets as these are much tighter.
I've always promoted the safety of Bangkok, and while it is still much safer than most western cities it is moving fast in the wrong direction.
Things are most certainly getting worse and this is a timely reminder.