The Case Of the Missing Laptop
The other night my wife K asked me where I moved the laptop to. I told her I hadn’t moved the laptop. As usual she didn’t believe me so she asked me several times more. She thought I was joking. After another long pointless discussion I decided to go downstairs to check for myself.
When I went downstairs to check it turned out that the laptop was missing. I knew instantly what had happened to the laptop.
To set the scene for the story I need to go back to when we first moved here about 9 years ago. K’s oldest sister lived in a small house in Ban Lek Lek in a rural area in the north of Thailand. We found out about some land that was for sale almost next door to K’s sister’s house. K’s sister has two sons. At the time we bought the property the oldest boy was already married with a son, even though he was still very young. The youngest son, T, was an angelic little boy of about 11 who was attending the local wat so he was always dressed in a saffron robe.
About 3 years later T’s parents were called into the wat regarding their son T. Apparently he was stealing in the wat but the reaction from the relatives was that there must be some kind of mistake. Shortly after this he took my bicycle. I went to his mother’s shop and strongly berated her son for stealing my bicycle. The relatives were horrified by my actions.
Who was the one who was in the wrong in this incident? Obviously me, the stupid farang. You just can’t make a scene like that in public. The probable message to the no longer angelic T was that he could take my effin bicycle and whatever else he fancied whenever he wanted.
In the few following years T started stealing from his own mother. I don’t have all the details but he spent long periods of time in “jail”. T caused so many problems by requiring funds for his court cases and so on that his parents split up and divorced. K’s sister remarried and moved about 70 km away and her brother-in-law remarried and moved 35 km away leaving the house to the two boys. T continued his thieving ways. Every piece of furniture in the house was sold. Eventually T’s actions caused the split up of his brother’s marriage as well.
Late last year T joined the army. He has already been in the army jail several times. Whenever T returns on leave he is penniless (bahtless) and hungry and so he continues his thieving ways. He stole many things last year. The neighbour saw him with some of the goods but the police could do nothing.
T apparently receives 4,500 baht per month from the army but every time he returns he has no money to buy food. My wife feels sorry for him because he is always hungry. Of course he has to be able to visit his grandfather who is bedridden. Every time he came he pretended to be very concerned about his grandpa but at the same time made a quick grab of whatever food he could get a hold of. I could see that it was the chance to steal food that was what attracted him, not visiting his grandpa.
Back to the current story. My wife K has a father who had a stroke about a year and a half ago. He cannot walk so he spends virtually 24 hours per day in bed. He has four daughters but none will take care of their papa.
The laptop was in the room that papa was sleeping in. After questioning grandpa as to whether he saw T take the laptop he confirmed that he saw him take it. The next morning it was off to the amphur police station to report the theft. We were told to be available that day because they would go to find T.
At around 8 PM T’s brother came to see me. My Thai is very poor and the brother was very drunk as usual. Anyway it turns out that he wanted me to take him to the nearest police box to report that his little brother was now at home and the police could find him there.
After spending more than hour at the police box we headed for T’s house. There were 6 policemen altogether. T, of course, denied everything. There were endless discussions and phone calls made. During this time my wife was nowhere to be found. She had gone out to dinner with her friends.
My wife managed to keep the policemen waiting for more than an hour. She absolutely loves this because it makes her feel very important. The discussion with T had reached the point that maybe he had taken the laptop and received 2000 Baht for it. Of course, since that was a day ago the money was already gone. What to do now? A very nice Thai solution would be to get the stupid farang to pay 2000 Baht, get the laptop back and then we’d forget about the whole thing.
The stupid farang, in his very basic Thai, made it very clear that he wasn’t going to reward a thief with 2000 Baht for stealing his laptop. Of course I broke all the Thai social rules because I was very blunt in what I had to say. A few of the policemen actually understood what I was on about. The object of the exercise was to stop the thieving, not encourage it.
I should add that in the course of events a large bottle of local lao khow (village whisky) appeared and disappeared down throats in a very short time. The police imbibied as much as anyone else. I again broke the Thai social rules because I don’t drink.
About 11:30 PM we all headed to another village 8 km away in search of the missing laptop. On the way my wife K told me that her friend said that I should pay the 2000 Baht and tell the police to not let T ever visit my house again. I was also told that I should think about the future. Maybe some time in the future T would get drunk or drugged up and want to come to kill me. I told them that paying the 2000 Baht would just encourage him.
After a lot of commotion T was able to wake one young man (around 20 years old). He didn’t have the laptop but he took us to another house nearby. We waited about 20 minutes while trying to wake a boy in the second house. Eventually the mother of the house appeared at the front door. There were incredibly long discussions and waiing as new members appeared on the scene. Eventually the laptop appeared. There still remained the delicate matter of the 2000 Baht the stupid ungrateful farang refused to pay. Eventually it was agreed that as long as nobody from the house had to go to the police station they would let the stupid ungrateful farang off the hook.
It was 1:30 in the morning before we left with the recovered laptop. By this time I guess there were about 10 local police, in full uniform, who had turned up. There were about 25 people in all who were either involved or spectators. The local village chief turned up towards the end and there was a long period of greeting and waiing.
I must say that the police made very careful records of everything and had various people sign the statement to authenticate it.
It was then decided that we had to go directly to the main amphur police station about 20 km away. I had a pretty good idea what would happen. On the way to the police station we were flagged down by the police truck at a 7 Eleven. They tried to buy whisky but were refused. Some food was bought. I paid around 300 Baht, a small price to pay for the cooperation of the local police.
When we got to the main police station at around 2:15 AM there was nobody there. The police van carrying police and T didn’t arrive for ten minutes. The police couldn’t find anybody either. They then decided that T would be kept overnight in the local police box where I went initially. We would have to return the next morning.
It turned out that the police were able to buy whisky somewhere along the way and the total came to 285 Baht. When I offered to pay the police refused to accept payment. I gave my wife 500 Baht which she slipped to the police which was accepted without comment. As we headed off home the police were seen to going into the local all night gwatiow (noodle) shop.
The next morning my wife K cooked food for the police. I delivered the food to the police. Again we had to wait for K before we could head off to the main police station. Before leaving K asked me if I was sure I wanted to continue with this as T could be in serious trouble. I told her roy per cent (100% sure).
At the police station I was told that T was being charged and that he would have to appear in court in a few days time in the big city. They could no longer hold T so they released him. After T came to apologize to me but I told him if it was one time I would say mai pen rai but since he had stolen so many things from me he had to face the music.
I am waiting to see what happens as a result of the court case.
The real irony is that I didn’t really care about the laptop. It is 3 years old already. I want to buy a new core i5 laptop so if the old one had not been recovered I would have had a good excuse. As it is, when I eventually buy a new laptop I
will have to put up with endless comments about not needing a new laptop. After all, it is perfectly OK for accessing Facebook.
T sounds like a real toe rag and I say good on you for sticking to your guns. With that said, I wonder what sort of fall out there will be from this whole debacle in the future. As T has a criminal record and knows the insides of jails well, I can say with certainty that he will be getting another one-way ticket back to the monkey house!
I wonder if he is a kleptomaniac or perhaps there is something else going on. Just where is the money going? Most likely drug use or gambling.