Thailand promises crime crackdown

BANGKOK, 3 October 2017: Thailand’s Deputy Prime Minister, Prawit Wongsuwan, has ordered a crackdown at major tourist destinations in the country targeting foreign ‘Mafia like’ gangs, scammers and illegal immigrants.

Defence Ministry’s spokesman Maj-Gen Kongcheep Tantrawanich confirmed to the Thai PBS TV news channel that the deputy prime minister had ordered all security branches to crackdown on illegals residing in tourist destinations such as Pattaya and Phuket.

Thai PBS said the crackdown would focus on so-called “dark influential figures” linked to prostitution, money laundering, drug and human trafficking. Foreigners who are illegally working and resident in the country have been a target for at least two years with offenders often deported.

Call centre and real estate scams are also prevalent at all major resort destinations and are prime targets.

Pattaya was the first target for the crackdown,  but authorities said they would follow through with similar campaigns in Phuket and Samui.

There is also a whistle blower scheme where local residents are encouraged to report possible scam and criminal activities.

Thailand is heading for membership in the mega-tourism club as visits approach 35 million this year, but it has come at a high cost in safety and security.

Accurate statistics on crimes involving foreigners are difficult to source  A website that collects statistics on the deaths of foreign tourists in Thailand identified 281 fatalities this year from all causes.

Books identifying the risks have been penned such as ‘Thailand Deadly Destination’ by John Stapleton (2014) that outlined potential threats that await tourists.

In response to a Q&A with the website One Weird Globe to the question of safety, Stapleton said: “No country is perfectly safe, of course, and many of Thailand’s dangers can be avoided, or lessened with a few tips.”

Stapleton’s takeaway tips:

Avoid attempting stuff beyond your skill or ability level. Just because a friendly Thai person is willing to rent you a jetski, or powerful motorcycle doesn’t mean you should;

Keep your common sense – and wits – about you. Some of the most common stories of theft, injury, or detainment happen when you demonstrate your clear inability to care for yourself.

Watch as your drink is made, and keep it with you.

Be suspicious of a local that approaches with a sales pitch or spiel.

Know at least something of the country before arriving. Simply reading the Wikitravel page to Thailand is a start, and picking up some light reading on the country certainly won’t kill you.

Keep a firm hand on your belongings while traveling, and avoid letting them out of your sight.