Readers of Thai newspapers or viewers of Thai news may have seen headlines of a burglary on the weekend of a townhouse in Rachada. I wanted to air my views on the way in which this was handled by police and media and express my disgust at the negligent reporting by ThaiRath. This article appeared on the front page of the newspaper.
I was the victim of said event and the facts are as follows: Rubbish is collected in our street 3 or 4 times a week. The truck parks outside our house for 20 minuets or so while they walk up and down the adjoining sois dragging bins and making a huge noise as they throw refuse into the back of the truck. This begins anytime between 3:30 AM and 5:30 AM a few times a week. The noise they make wakes me up every time and I normally lay there trying to ignore it for 20 minutes until they finish their racket and move on.
In the early hours of Saturday morning, while the truck was idling outside our window, 2 people broke into our 2 storey townhouse via a locked window using a screwdriver to jimmy it open. Under the protective din of racket outside, they then used a crowbar to break open a very sturdy desk drawer which, among other things, contained 9,000 AUD and about 75,000 baht. (This was temporarily stored in the desk since I don't qualify for or have a Thai bank account). <Hate to say it but at many bank branches anyone can open an account, foreigners with on a tourist visa included – Stick> Other items taken include 2 cameras, Discman, MP3 player, thumb drives, an external hard drive and wallet containing 2 credit cards and a further 15,000 baht in cash.
One of these guys sat at the bottom of the stairs, presumably as a lookout, while enjoying 2 cigarettes evidenced by the remains of the butts left crushed into the floor. A bizarre twist was discovered in the corner of the backyard where we found one of the perps had defecated on the ground! The first (of 3) sets of police came and told us this was part of a ritualistic "Cambodian black magic" intended to make everybody in the house remain asleep. For police to believe this is beyond me.
The first 3 policemen to arrive, wandered through the house picking up items that had fallen from the drawer and grabbing the window frame at the point of entry with no regard for the integrity of the scene or possible fingerprints. When asked if they were to take prints, one officer made a casual glance at the window frame (which he had just touched) and said "There are no prints there. They were here less than 10 minutes." No attempt was made to talk to neighbors, and aside from asking what was taken, no answers were sought for timeframes, any noises heard etc.
A second set of police arrive 2 hours later (a mix-up at the police station had them believing they were first to arrive on the scene.) After being told police had already come but that we were unhappy with the lack of "police work" done previously, they promptly left.
My girl has 7 years experience working with an investigations team coordinating police raids for copyright and fraud cases in and around Bangkok. A phone call to a contact she has, had a third team of police, headed by the big knob district police chief on our doorstep within 20 minutes, news crew in tow.
This guy was absolutely fuming with the lack of effort from previous two teams of police, snippets of the conversation revealed his concern over the poor service and perception I (as a farang) would have with the police work in a climate where Thailand is already in damage control for all the international attention it has received.
The sound bites and news articles report that 2 million baht was stolen (I'd love for the exchange rate on 9000 AUD to translate to 2.5 million baht). My partner of 26 years of age is reported as being 35 years of age. At no time did we talk to any reporters, no "facts" were verified with us, so I can only assume all information in their story was obtained from police reports. What possible hope can be held for resolution to such incidents if the police facts differ so much from reality?
Most concerning, one of the few pieces of information the reporters got right was our address, which they have published in full. One report even has our bloody phone / fax number. Today we have received 2 phone calls and a fax from security firms wanting to install alarms and security systems. I don't see how publishing our address and contact details does anything more than paint us as a bloody future target. I don't see how this information has any bearing on creating a better story. I mean, here's a farang living in a house that has in the past kept (by their reporting) 2.5 million baht on the premises and oh, and here is his address!! Am I crazy for thinking this is inappropriate? On top of that, they have also published my girl's friggin parent's address in Ubon! Why? This published information has had me sleeping downstairs on the couch so my girl and her niece (living with us) can get some piece of mind. It also has us packing bags today and relocating to a condo this weekend which means forfeiting a further 30,000 in bond for breaking our lease.
I am very sorry at your loss and I am disgusted at the way the whole thing was handled. It really does nothing for the confidence of foreigners in Thailand that there will be any assistance or redress should they be the victim of a crime.