Four held in Surat Thani gold shop robbery

Four held in Surat Thani gold shop robbery

Three teens who did deliveries for a drug dealer served as lookouts, say police

Four held in Surat Thani gold shop robbery
Prime suspect Sarayut Chimklong (left) and Phuwadol Khongkaset, 18, are taken for a re-enactment of the robbery at the Yaowarat Krungthep gold shop in Chaiya district of Surat Thani on Thursday. They were among four suspects arrested separately in connection with the Jan 10 incident. (Photo: Supapong Chaolan)

SURAT THANI: Four suspects, including a 15-year-old boy, have been arrested in connection with the Jan 10 robbery of a gold shop at a shopping mall in Chaiya district of this southern province.

Police on Thursday took the four suspects — accused gang leader Sarayut Chimklong, 38, of Rayong; Anocha Sae Lee, 33; Phuwadol Khongkaset, 18, and the 15-year-old — for a re-enactment of the robbery at the Lotus’s mall in Chaiya.

Investigators found that there were five people involved in the robbery. Two of them were aged 14 and 15. Police then sought court approval to arrest them, said Pol Lt Gen Suraphong Thanomjit, commissioner of Provincial Police Region 8.

All but the 14-year-old were arrested separately. The fifth suspect, who was tasked with riding a motorcycle for the robbers, was expected to be arrested soon, he said.

The Yaowarat Krungthep gold shop was held up at 7.10pm on Jan 10. Security camera video showed two armed men, dressed in black, entering the shop. One was wearing a hooded jacket and the other wore a face mask and a cap.

The first man, holding a gun in one hand, quickly swept gold necklaces from the showcase. The second man stood in front of the shop with two guns in his hands. The robbers then made off on a motorcycle with about 40 gold necklaces, worth about 1.3 million baht.

The robbery took less than one minute.

The first man was identified later as Sarayut and the second was Phuwadol.

Accused gang leader Sarayut Chimklong is arrested at a house in Maha Sarakham province in the Northeast on charges of robbing a gold shop in Surat Thani. (Photo: Supapong Chaolan)

According to the police investigation, Sarayut had debts of 2 million baht from online football gambling. This motivated him to rob the gold shop to get quick money. Investigators said he contacted Anocha, a relative said to be a drug dealer in Phun Phin district of Surat Thani, to recruit teenagers he employed to deliver drugs to join the robbery.

The alleged gang leader was arrested in Kae Dam district of Maha Sarakham province in the Northeast while the three other suspects, who served as lookouts, were caught in Phun Phin district.

“All confessed to having colluded in plotting the robbery plan,” said Pol Lt Gen Suraphong. “They went to the target shop one week before the robbery was carried out. The stolen gold had been sold at shops in Bangkok and other provinces.

“Money from the sale of the gold was divided among them. Police took 10 days to wrap up the case. Mr Sarayut, the gang leader, has lured young people who have family problems into committing the robbery. This is worrying.”