Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Thailand: Street Crime in Phuket Is A Daily Threat, Follow Security Advice

As I have said on numerous occasions in the past, economic street crime continues to be a clear and present danger in Phuket, and most tourist destinations in the Land of Smiles.

According to The Phuket News, which quotes sources within the Royal Thai Police in Phuket, crime levels seem to be holding at current levels, even as eight street robberies have occurred just since January 1.

Please keep in mind, though, that those robberies do not include other Part 1 offenses (i.e., felonies).

A common criminal tactic nationwide is for two assailants on a motorbike or motorcycle to roam the streets looking for victims that are wearing expensive-looking jewelry, watches, necklaces, etc., thereby enabling the "team" to snatch precious items (including tote-bags, cameras, smart-phones, etc.) while moving.

Such was the case on January 4, when a woman wearing a gold necklace on Songkhla Road had it snatched from her neck as he drove past her on a motorbike. Fortunately, surveillance cameras captured the crime and the assailant was later arrested.
 
In another case on January 7, police tracked down in a matter of hours a man who grabbed a German tourist's iPhone as he walked down Thalang Road at 0200 hours. Fortunately, the smart-phone was returned to the tourist before he returned home.

COMMENT: It must also be stated that many street criminals throughout Thailand will even resort to lethal force if they encounter resistance. 

An excellent example of this is the robbery-homicide of Perth travel agent Michelle Smith, 60, who was stabbed in the heart on June 20, 2012, when she continued to hang onto her hand-bag which was grabbed by two assailants on a motorbike.

Sadly, had Mrs. Smith surrendered her hand-bag she no doubt would be alive today, as no amount of property is worth our life. 

For all travelers to Thailand, I recommend the following:

1. Go online to your government's foreign affairs agency and print off security guidance for the country you are traveling to. Follow this guidance;

2.Register your itinerary abroad online with the appropriate foreign affairs agency of your government;

3. Wear no expensive-looking jewelry (including watches, necklaces, rings, earrings, etc.);

4. Subscribe to international medical treatment and evacuation coverage before you leave home, otherwise medical treatment may be withheld until you can guarantee the payment of treatment;

5. Carry a mobile phone at all times and type in your embassy or consulate's number, local hospital and the police emergency number into the phone's speed-dialer;

6.  Do not resist a street robbery; no amount of property is worth your life; 

7. Don't carry your passport, but rather carry a photocopy of your passport's photo page and your entry-visa stamp on your person and safeguard your passport in your hotel lobby's two-keyed safe deposit box system;

8. NEVER use an in-room hotel safe for safeguarding cash and valuables. They are NOT secure;

9.  Keep in mind that the theft smart-phones are on most criminals' "to do" list, thus be discreet when using such phones to make a call; and

10. Develop a keen sense of security awareness, remember that NOT everyone you meet has your best interests at heart and be predictably suspicious.