Author Topic: Runaway cabbie stole passengers' goods, even a dog  (Read 392 times)

Offline thaiga

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Runaway cabbie stole passengers' goods, even a dog
« on: April 29, 2013, 01:44:39 PM »
Taxi scam runs out of gas

When a Nonthaburi couple hailed a taxi to take them to Suvarnabhumi airport earlier this month, they had no idea they were about to fall victim to a scam.

Victims point at Wallop Uthong, 54, the taxi driveraccused of a series of driveoff heists, at the Provincial Police Region 1 headquarters in Bangkok. WASSAYOS NGAMKHAM

The couple entered the orange cab outside their home in Bang Bua Thong district on the morning of April 3. They were heading to catch a flight to India.

But the taxi apparently ran out of gas as they drove along Ratchapruek Road. The driver turned around in his seat and told them that he was disabled and needed them to push the car to the side of the road for him. The couple obliged.

The husband left the cab first, followed by his wife. The moment they were out of the car, the driver restarted the taxi and sped off, taking with him all of their belongings.

Without money or phones, the desperate couple set off on foot to the nearest police station in Nonthaburi's Muang district to report the incident. They walked for more than an hour.

At the station, police told them there was little hope of finding the driver. They suspected he would flee to another province.

Nonthaburi police commander Pol Maj Gen Thanayut Wuthicharasthamrong immediately called in his officers to devise a plan to catch the driver.

Nonthaburi police discovered that more than 10 other similar incidents involving a taxi had taken place in Bangkok and Pathum Thani in the past few months. They suspected the same driver committed all of the thefts.

With the help of the victims, a sketch artist drew an image of the driver, while investigators reviewed surveillance recordings from cameras installed along the route they took.

One camera outside a convenience store had captured the orange taxi on film, but the image was blurry. A week went by with no progress in the case.

Pol Maj Gen Thanayut then turned his attention to the couple's belongings.

Police quickly discovered the driver had sold the couple's phones at a second-hand shop in Bangkok's Huai Kwang area. However, the shop owner had no personal details about the person who sold him the phones.

He said he did not take personal information from his clients as they tend not to want their identities revealed.

Luckily, police obtained a phone number used by the suspect to call the shop.

Meanwhile, female officers worked the targeted areas hailing taxis in search of the suspect. Several drivers were questioned but the suspect remained at large.

Then on Tuesday, police managed to pinpoint the suspect's whereabouts from his mobile phone signal.

Wallop Uthong, 54, was traced to a resort in Bang Pla Ma district of Suphan Buri where he was spending the night with his mistress.

Mr Wallop allegedly told police he had stolen the couple's belongings. He was charged with the theft.

Police seized his taxi and later searched his house in Nonthaburi, discovering hundreds of valuable items stolen from other victims _ including a four-month-old Pomeranian puppy they said was taken in a similar drive-off heist.

Sri Muang police are now taking care of the dog.

Pol Maj Gen Thanayut said Mr Wallop, who is actually disabled, would drive around the northern districts of Bangkok and Nonthaburi picking up passengers.

He lied to his passengers about the car either breaking down or running out of gas, he allegedly told police. He would then drive off with their belongings when they left the car to push it.

Mr Wallop allegedly said he committed the routine about 12 times in the past several months, but police think he was much more prolific than that.

Anyone who goes to a psychiatrist should have his head examined.