Burglarized in Bangkok
I was staying in a small studio apartment down some rat-infested alley off Sukhumvit Soi 22. Every day I would take an afternoon stroll down the network of alley ways until I hit Foodland, then cross over Asoke and into Benjakiti Park.
I love this park. This was my little home away from home in the big city. The afternoons were super hot and sunny but I loved it because I usually had the whole place to myself. There’s a big track to walk around the lake and a shady spot with some pull up bars where you can work out. Walking to the park became my daily ritual.
Outside my apartment building there were always a half-dozen moto taxi guys. If you’ve been to Bangkok then you know how they look. Rough-looking guys, usually in filthy clothes, wearing those orange vests.
They were a friendly bunch, most of them smiling and nodding to me every day. I was always friendly, humble and polite towards them.
But one guy was an intolerable ball breaker. Whenever I would greet them I’d say hello in Thai. The asshole would usually mock me because of my poor Thai language skills. Sometimes he would then walk behind me, exaggerating the way I walked then laughing to the rest of his pals.
I would always take a deep breath, control my anger and ignore him, but he certainly tested my patience some mornings. A man can only tolerate so much and I’ve lost my cool over less.
One time I was leaving the gate of my building and he stood right in my way, poking his chest out towards me. We stared each other in the eyes. He wouldn’t move. I had to side step to go around him. I’m bigger than him, but he’s tall for a Thai guy and stocky. I’m sure he would put up a good fight. But so would I.
One morning I was leaving my building and he was out there standing by his bike. As I walked down the sidewalk he popped open the seat of his motorbike and just stood there staring at me.
I glanced down and sitting right in the storage area under his seat was a small stainless steel pistol. I didn’t get a good look at it, but it appeared to be a Bersa .380.
He looked me in the eyes, made sure I was looking, then he looked down at the gun. He obviously wanted me to see it. I kept on walking by and he closed the seat.
Fast forward a few weeks.
I went for my afternoon workout in the park. I arrived back at my building sweaty, tired, carrying some street food I just purchased nearby.
I unlocked my door and stepped into my room. Dropping my keys on the table I noticed the big pile of change I had there was gone. The table was spotlessly clean.
What the hell? They don’t clean the rooms here… So somebody must have been in my room. My heart sank into my stomach as I started to process the reality of what had happened.
I ran over to my closet and tore open the door. My messenger bag was gone, along with my new laptop, my Kindle, two watches, all my credit / debit cards and about $500 cash. They had even swiped the pile of coins off the table on the way out. Thank god they left my passport.
But the worst part of it all… the real kick in the balls was my hard drive was gone. Fifteen years worth of childhood memories on that hard drive. I bought my first digital camera as a young teenager and took pictures of everything. Family times. Fun with friends. Tens of thousands of cherished pictures.
I was planning to back it up to the cloud but hadn’t gotten around to it. Now gone forever. A $20 score for a thief but it was devastating to me.
I was shaking with rage. How could this happen? It’s a locked room, in a secure building with a gate. Cameras everywhere, security at the front desk and you need a key card to get in the door.
My first thought was the moto taxi guy. I wanted to charge down those steps and pounce on him. Beat him senseless.
I went down to talk to the lady working at the front desk. As calmly as possible, I told her I had been robbed and I wanted to see the camera footage immediately.
After some time the owner arrived, a Thai woman who was always very friendly with me and spoke very good English. We reviewed the footage in her office. I’ll let you decide what happened here…
After I walked out of the building that afternoon the fat lady working the front desk was seen making a phone call. 15 minutes later a motorbike pulled up and parked just outside the view of the street camera. The lady at the front desk propped open the front door (which usually requires a key card to open) then she disappeared from her desk in the lobby. Hmm… how convenient for a thief.
A Thai man walked in the open door and began wandering the halls looking at room numbers. He walked up the stairs and directly to my room. He pulled some kind of tool out of his pocket and picked my padlock in seconds. He disappeared into my room and shut the door.
The fat lady appeared back at the front desk. She has all the camera screens right in front of her on the security desk there… The Thai man came out of my room carrying my messenger bag slung over his shoulder. He put the padlock back on the door, locking it again and then left the building.
The lady is sitting at the desk WATCHING the guy on the camera screen as he walked toward the exit, heading straight for her in the lobby. Just as he was going to reach the lobby, the fat lady turned away and pretended to be digging through her purse for something on the ground behind her. This allowed him to casually walk by without being seen… Her acting was so painfully bad and obvious I laughed out loud while watching it.
“She was in on the whole thing! She had me robbed!”, I shouted as I stood up and pointed right at her. She sat there looking confused in the office.
The owner said “No no… Not possible. She is like family. We know her many years. Cannot be her.” Bullshit! I was pissed!
“Did you see the tape?”, I said. “She left the door open for the guy. She turned her back and let a stranger walk in and out the building with no key card!”
I demanded they check her phone and see who she called. The owner refused to do it. She said she could call the cops if I want and maybe they will check it.
I was so disgusted with them and angry at the moment I said forget it. My property was long gone and I highly doubted the police would ever get it back.
The lady could easily just delete her call history right away. I felt betrayed by these people. I also felt unsafe living in that apartment now. I packed my things and left the next day.
- Trust no-one. The person paid and entrusted to keep residents safe had me robbed. I am 100% sure of this.
- Back important information up to the cloud. Losing a few grand worth of electronics hurts, but it can easily be replaced. Losing those pictures was the real dagger in the heart for me. And I have no-one to blame but myself.
- Rent a nice place. I thought I was saving money by renting a cheap apartment, but it ended up costing me more after losing all my stuff. Spend a few hundred dollars more and rent a room in a nicer building.
This type of incident can happen anywhere, it’s not just a Thailand problem. I just wanted to share this story for anyone thinking of making the move. Be careful who you trust. They might be watching your every move and waiting for their chance to strike.
I am surprised that the owner did not go to the police and that you did not insist that she help you in lodging a criminal complaint with the police. The Thai police get a bad rap at times but in a case like this where the evidence was clear, I imagine they would have been on to it.
The author has his own Thailand website here : SingleMansParadise.com