Phuket Gazette

CHONBURI: One might think that armed robbery follows a fairly formulaic process: just grab a weapon, threaten someone and, if everything goes to plan, flee with the loot.

However, as with other professions, there are also cultural aspects involved in the choice of equipment. An Amazon Indian might use a blowpipe in a hold-up, whereas a Zulu would more naturally opt for a knobkerrie.

Thus it should come as no surprise that a Thai hoodlum in Pattaya recently chose an Isarn specialty – chili paste and pla ra (fermented fish) – as his weapon of choice.

On September 24, 47-year-old Sithichai Bunwat was closing the secondhand shop in which he worked when two youths pulled up outside on a moped.

Three heavies in a white car parked behind the bike. The youths then headed over to K. Sihichai and one of them pulled out a gun, ordering him back into the shop.

Once inside, they grabbed K. Sithichai’s hands and locked them to the fridge. Then they pulled out a bag of fiery chili and fermented fish paste, throwing it all over K. Sithi’s face to blind him.

Victim incapacitated, the young thugs smashed the glass display case at the front of the shop and made off with the electronics and jewelery it contained.

After the youths and their lookouts had left, K. Sithi was able to free himself by kicking over the fridge. Wiping the stinging and pungent mess from his face, he then called the police and the shop’s owner, Wichan Biakhrai, also a member of Nong Preu Municipal Council.

K. Wichan said the thieves had taken 15 digital still and video cameras, rings and bracelets with a total of 150 grams of gold, 30 watches, 20,000 baht in cash and 25 mobile phones.

The articles stolen have a combined value of about 500,000 baht, he added.

It was the third time the shop has been hit by thieves, K. Wichan said. The shop is fitted with three CCTV cameras, but as Murphy’s Law would have it, there was no tape in the recorder on the day of the robbery.

Police, however, were quick off the mark and soon had a suspect in custody, a man named Wichai who was found with a 9mm pistol and a moped similar to that used in the robbery.

K. Sithichai, however, insisted that K. Wichai was not the one who fish-sauced him in the shop. Having ruled him out of involvement in this, police are now trying to establish whether K. Wichai’s pistol was held legally or not.

Col Suthi Sapphuan, superintendent of Banglamung District Police Station, said that the three men in the car while the robbery took place were likely to have been acting as lookouts for the two youths.

Police have now invited K. Sithichai to come to the station to try and pick out his attackers from their extensive collection of photographs of known criminals.

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