A transgender person in Pattaya was arrested by police last night for allegedly pickpocketing cash and two gold necklaces from a Russian couple several days ago.
The suspect was taken to the Pattaya Police Station on suspicions of pickpocketing 2,500 baht in cash and two gold necklaces from a Russian couple, Mr. Nikolay Smirnova, 51, and Mrs. Elena Smirnova, also 51.
The couple told police they were approached by the suspect who gave them a welcome hug and took selfies with them at 10:30 PM on May 23rd, on Jomtien Beach, Pattaya. The couple only realized that their jewelry and money had been stolen after the suspect walked away.
At the police station, Pol. Col. Thanapong Phothi, Superintendent of Pattaya Police Station, identified the alleged thief as Watcharapong Ponpun, a 27-year-old transgender person from Buriram province, northeastern Thailand.
The superintendent said to The Pattaya News that he had immediately embarked on a search for the culprit’s whereabouts, relying on CCTV footage and eyewitness accounts after receiving the theft report on May 23rd. Eventually, he discovered that the suspect had hired a taxi to escape to Bangkok after selling one of the stolen gold necklaces for a profit at an unnamed Pattaya gold shop.
However, Pol. Col. Thanapong said the culprit ultimately ran out of money and contacted the same gold shop again to sell another stolen chain.
Upon receiving this information, Pol. Col. Thanapong deployed a team to monitor the situation and patiently waited until the perpetrator arrived in a taxi from Bangkok to the gold shop. Once the authorities witnessed Watcharapong taking out the gold necklace to sell to the buyer, they swiftly moved in and apprehended them.
Initially, the transgender suspect admitted to pickpocketing Mr. Nikolay and Mrs. Elena on Jomtien Beach. They claimed that it was their first time doing the crime and said they spent the money on online gambling, letting their friends borrow some, and daily spending.
Watcharapong is in police custody waiting to be further charged.
This is not the first time that foreigners have fallen victim to pickpocketing in Pattaya, The Pattaya News notes.
On May 13th, two Indian men were pickpocketed by a transgender suspect who openly ripped a gold chain off their neck. The police have also suggested multiple times that tourists leave the jewelry and valuables at home and be wary of suspicious touching and hugging by strangers.