Phuket gold shop robber probe nets B3.7mn cash, online gambling arrests

PHUKET: The arrest of the Myanmar man who robbed a gold store in Phuket Town last year has led to the arrests of two wanted men for operating an illegal online gambling website and the seizure of B3.7 million in cash, police announced today (Apr 6).

Region 8 Police Commander Pol Lt Gen Amphol Buarabporn announced the news at Tha Chatchai Police Station, at the northern end of Phuket, this morning.

Lt Gen Amphol explained that the two arrests followed an investigation that started with the arrest of Myanmar national Chai Aung, 26, for the robbery of the Thong Thaweechai gold shop on Ranong Rd in Phuket Town in October last year.

Police were especially motivated to track down and apprehend Chai Aung last October as he made off with more than B10mn in gold jewellery in the robbery.

He had also heavily assaulted an elderly couple ‒ Wangdee Inthawong, 71, and Puangpen Sakkasemkrit, 65 ‒ who lived upstairs from the gold shop as caretakers for the store.

Chai Aung had struck both Mr Wangdee and Ms Puangpen on the head with a piece of wood that he had taken from the kitchen upstairs, where he also took a large knife that he had on him during the attack.

He bound the couple’s hands and feet with wire and threatened to beat Ms Puangpen if they did not open the safe. 

Officers searched Chai Aung’s rented room and recovered the stolen jewellery, reported as 363 bahtweight of gold, valued at more than B10.6mn. Officers also recovered B33,600 from the room.

Chai Aung blamed online gambling debts as his motivation for carrying out the robbery, which led officers to arrest the two men operating the website, Lt Gen Amphol explained today.

QSI International School Phuket

The investigation also found itself linked to a complaint filed with Udon Thani Police over “a group of able-bodied men claiming to be police officers [sic] extorting property from the victim in the amount of B400,000 and one amulet” after gambling on the online gambling site incurred almost B2mn debt.

The Udon Thani case saw a man’s bank account, used to place bets with the website, being depleted, Lt Gen Amphol said.

The investigation saw the Phuket Provincial Court issue arrest warrants for the two men determined to be the main operators of the website, https://789xber.com, which has now been taken offline.

Nirawit Chanthaphun was arrested at a hotel in Mae Sai District, Chiang Rai Province.

Somsak Cherntong was arrested at a house on Naeb Kehat Rd in Hua Hin, Prachuap Khiri Khan Province.

In total, 58 items of evidence were seized, including B3,713,400 in cash, three land title deeds and four contracts of land for sale, Lt Gen Amphol said.

Also seized were eight mobile phones, two computers, one car, 14 bankbooks and 10 cash cards along with clothes, bags and electronic devices, Lt Gen Amphol added.

“From the result of this case, I would like anyone who sees or knows about criminals trying to persuade them to gamble online on various social media, which intoxicates our youth and destroys the country’s economy, they can inform the hotline of the Information Technology Crime Suppression Center at 1599 and by their direct line 081-8663000, or people can report it to Information Technology Crime Suppression Center at Region 8 Police,” Lt Gen Amphol said.

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