Sunday, 23 October 2022

Caught short, errant mate, spooky theft, gift of the gab

New means of exchange

Supapon Inkanya outside her shop

An Udon Thani woman is afraid for her safety after a young customer paid for a 10-baht snack with a meth pill.

Supapon Inkanya, 40, who runs a grocery shop in Muang district, said the man visited her shop three times on Oct 17. She had not seen him before but noticed he was heavily tattooed.

Ms Supapon, who has run the shop in soi Prachaburana, Village 4 of Ban Lueam sub-district for a little more than a year, said she suspects he was checking out the place. He may have intended to come back for the speed pill and redeem it with spare cash, as he asked her cryptically on one visit if she could take care of something for him.

The first time he visited the shop, about midday, he bought pork on a stick and asked if business was good. She did not reply.

The second time, about 3pm, he bought a drink, and asked her to keep something for him should he entrust it to her, without spelling out what he meant.

Finally, he turned up again that evening, chose his 10-baht snack and handed over two baht and one meth pill by way of payment. His fist was clenched when he put the goods into her hand, as if he wanted to disguise his method of payment until the last moment.

“He got back on his bike in a hurry before I could stop him,” Ms Supapon said.

When she glanced in her hand and realised he had not paid enough, she called out. He shouted in defiant reply: “I will go and tell the cops you have ya ba!”

In shock, Ms Supapon, who didn’t realise at first what he had given her, threw the coins and pill down the drain outside her shop. “That night I could barely sleep as I was worried he might come back again,” she said.

She alerted the village head, who urged her to install a CCTV camera in the shop. She also told police, who visited the shop to retrieve the pill and are checking CCTV cameras in the area to find the culprit.

Meanwhile, news reports asked what had Thailand come to when customers were now paying for their purchases with speed pills.

Ungrateful mate
Tanthiwaporn Kerdthongmee

A Nakhon Si Thammarat man is disgusted after a drug-addled friend rewarded his loyalty by smashing up his shop with a knife.

Ekanat Julakal, 33, and his wife Tanthiwaporn Kerdthongmee, 25, alerted Phra Phrom police after the suspect, identified only as Chak, 34, went berserk in their shop after getting high on drugs.

He smashed up the place with a long knife before turning the weapon on Mr Ekanat’s pickup and breaking a window. While the pair escaped injury, the attack angered Mr Ekanat, who says he has regularly given his friend Chak food and money and a few days ago lent him his motorcycle.

Chak attacks the shop
Chak, he said, is a former border patrolman who left the army after his drug habit took over his life. He now lives with his parents but is constantly in search of money to get high.

“He hasn’t brought back my bike. I suspect he took it to the pawn shop to exchange for drugs money,” he said later. “The police have caught him many times and he is only recently out of jail.”

The couple sell sweet drinks from the shop. Ms Tanthiwaporn was alone on Oct 15 when she looked up and saw Chak in an agitated state running across the road towards her, wielding his knife.

“I saw the signs were not good so raced out. He stabbed me but it just grazed my back. I hid in a grove nearby and called my husband as I watched Chak attacking the shop.

“My husband raced over but barely had time to get out of the vehicle before Chak had smashed the window,” she said.

The couple complained to police, who arrested Chak at his home. Later, his parents visited the station, where media reports say his mother, despite the evidence, insisted her son had done nothing wrong. “He has not taken drugs, and is being set up,” she claimed.

Mr Ekanat says CCTV vision in the shop clearly shows Chak smashing things up. He gave a copy to the media and police as evidence.

“I never thought I’d see a friend betray me like this, especially after I helped him so much; or that I’d see his mother try to protect him by insisting he was being framed,” he said.

Despite his mother’s pleas, police charged Chak with attempted assault, damaging property, possessing a weapon and taking drugs.

Nothing’s sacrosanct
Locals survey the damage at the temple

Sakon Nakhon villagers are feeling spooked after vandals desecrated more than 100 stupa containing locals’ ashes, so they could get at the cash interred with them.

Non Hom villagers in Muang district are urging police action after relatives making merit at Wat Pa Ban Non Hom, in Village 2 of Non Hom sub-district, noticed the stupa had been vandalised. The thieves smashed the stupa, which are lined up inside the temple grounds, and took valuable items inside such as cash.

Relatives leave money to make merit and ensure their descendants come back in the next life with all body parts intact (some leave 32 baht: one baht for each of the 32 body parts such as eyes, ears and so on).

Phra Athikan Prasai Thanaviro, the abbot, reckons the thieves worked both day and night. He said locals at the temple were appalled that the thieves would stoop to taking the dead’s money and belongings.

He suspects youngsters in the village, looking for drugs money to feed their habit, may be behind it. “Villagers are scared, as the thieves did it without fear of the consequences of their sin,” he said. Many locals who pray there are from the Phu Thai tribal community, and believe in ghosts and spirits.

Sakon Nakhon MP Niyom Vejkama, from the Pheu Thai Party, urged police to investigate as he is worried the trend will spread to other temples.

“Ya ba costs only 20 baht a pill but locals have no money to buy it, so they steal from temples,” he said, while visiting Wat Pa Ban Non Hom temple in the aftermath of the thefts. “I urge the government to take the ya ba problem seriously; addicts need rehab centres,” Dr Niyom said.

This is not the first time thieves have turned to looting temple stupa. Thieves smashed 23 stupa and took the bronze urns and money inside at Wat Surinthrarom in Chalerm Phrakiat district, Buri Ram, in August.

Monks say locals put 20 baht and 100 baht notes in with the ashes, along with gold earrings which the dead wore. Police are investigating.

Cool customer
Kulab Tansantia

An offender had a quick answer for a Chon Buri woman who begged him not to steal her gold.

Kulab Tansantia, 54, was out shopping with her young grandson in soi Thepprasit, Village 8, of Nong Prue district on Oct 16 when the man, clad entirely in black and wearing a red woollen hat, pulled up alongside her on his motorbike.

“Aunty, please ...your hand...,” he said coolly. He reached over and yanked off her bracelet, and also took her gold ring and cash. The total value came to 46,000 baht.

“I gave him a wai, begging him not to take it, but he made as if to grab something from his waist (like a gun),” she said later.

He responded to the wai: “Would you have me do nothing, or should I shoot? Would you rather keep the gold or your life?”

Put like that, she believes she had little choice but to go along. She and her grandson, aged one year and seven months, were out for a morning shop close to home. “Once he had all the stuff he wanted he raced off on his bike,” she said. She noticed his bike had no registration plate.

Ms Kulab reported the theft to Muang police in Pattaya, who are investigating.

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