Car thieves get creative

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A black Audi coupe is confiscated from a gang who allegedly falsified its vehicle registration information. The gang is also suspected of being involved in the car theft. (Photo by Wassayos Ngamkham)

The black market is a popular choice for thieves, while a luxury car ring uses fake license plates.

The latest police crackdown on vehicle theft by the Crime Suppression Division (CSD) revealed that a large number of vehicles are stolen other than by breaking and entering.

Sakkarin Yingchatchawanchai, 28, fled before his homes were attacked by CSD police on Tuesday. The suspect had forged his identity to avoid being arrested for leading a gang that allegedly stole vehicles and exported them.

Police seized 16 cars suspected of being stolen, said Col. Pol Bunlue Phadungthin, head of CSD subdivision 3.

Mr. Sakkarin had changed his name from Wirawat Sipodok, registered as a resident of Bang Yai district to Nonthaburi. He previously ran an auto repair shop on Phibun Songkhram Road in Nonthaburi.

The owner of a car rental company, who declined to be named, told the CSD that he had agreed to rent a vehicle from Mr Sakkarin, who appeared well dressed and respectable. The suspect called the company on March 1 to rent a car for a month.

Mr Sakkarin claimed his own car was being repaired and showed the owner of the rental car a repair document. He also gave a copy of his ID card, the victim said.

After picking up the rental car, Mr Sakkarin paid a daily rent of 600 baht for 10 days before telling the owner of the car rental company that he had a problem with his finances. After that, he was never heard from again, according to the owner.

The CDS said Mr Sakkarin also allegedly had other tips for stealing cars. He encouraged people with financial problems to pledge their vehicles with him, but then continued to sell them on the black market, Col. Pol Bunlue said.

CSD investigators found pawn and loan documents in Mr Sakkarin’s homes during Tuesday’s raid. They also confiscated six motorcycles and four rifles and ammunition for inspection.

Also last week, CSD raids caught a gang suspected of having links to a car theft ring.

The gang illegally sold used luxury cars to unsuspecting customers, said Pol Col Bunlue.

Police are examining information that could link the gang to any car theft ring and have confiscated fake vehicle registration plates from the used car company, the CSD subdivision chief said.

Police managed to locate one of the vehicles, a black Audi coupe, which the gang had sold to a customer for 12 million baht at a service station on Pradit Manutham Road in Bangkok.

Investigators said the checks revealed that the Audi coupe was registered with the Ministry of Land Transport as a white vehicle with a different registration number. The registration file shows that the car belonged to Phongphan Kasemsawat, who died in a car accident eight years ago.

Phongphan, 39, with his wife, Benchamat Masing, was driving the car when the accident happened on a road between Phanom District in Kanchanaburi and Kamphaeng Saen District in Nakhon Pathom.

The man was killed while his wife was seriously injured.

The damaged Audi car was then repaired and sold to the gang who forged the vehicle registration number.

“Some state officials must have been involved [in the number plate forgery]Col. Pol Bunlue said, adding that someone had almost certainly helped the gang bypass the strict rules of the registration process.

In a third raid last week, the CSD arrested a gang member who allegedly stole motorcycles for sale in Myanmar.

The crackdown was led by Pol Col Maen Menyaem, head of subdivision 4 of the CSD. His team caught a man identified as Athippati Tulathong. He is said to have colluded with a Burmese accomplice called Hatsan who bought the stolen motorcycles from Mr. Athippati.

Mr. Athippati, who is wanted under several arrest warrants, was caught in a housing estate in the Ban Pong district of Ratchaburi. His arrest followed a raid on a gang of five earlier this year after police discovered they had dismantled stolen motorcycles and sent them across the border as spares.

According to Pol Col Maen, Mr. Athippati did not use a sophisticated method, he just stole motorcycles parked in security blind spots at night. Colonel Pol Maen said Mr. Athippati had a knack for avoiding arrest and had been committing crime in Bangkok and neighboring provinces for more than 10 years.

The 29-year-old suspect has not renewed his ID card since he was 15, preventing police from pinning him despite four arrest warrants on charges including motorcycle theft and deprivation of a minor of parental care on his behalf. , added Pol Col Maen.

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