When I first arrived I had heard that theft was something not to really worry about as the Thais’ were not a “thieving people” on the whole. I accepted that – not having heard any bad stories when I first arrived in Ubon Ratchathani. These are a few instances of thefts I experienced and other friends and co-workers over the almost 3 years I’ve been here.
The first thing I had stolen was after being in Thailand about 2 months and was a white motorbike helmet at the Big C in Ubon. I hadn’t locked my helmet under the seat as I was told it didn’t matter – that nobody ever stole helmets.
I was shocked at first, but then I chalked it up to someone mistaking mine for theirs. I give the benefit of the doubt once in a while.
The second theft I experienced in Thailand was a white motorbike helmet at the Big C in Ubon. Hmm… That’s strange, do I detect a pattern here? I wanted a white helmet because I thought maybe they’re a little bit cooler when the sun is frying everyone’s head that is wearing darker colored motorbike helmets. I bought another white one after that helmet was stolen and I started to lock the helmet to the motorbike under the seat.
The third theft I experienced was a white motorbike helmet outside a 7-11 where I just didn’t think to lock it because I’d only be in there for a few minutes. My bad.
The fourth theft I heard of was of a co-worker who was sleeping in her house (upstairs) when someone entered the house on the ground floor and took her mobile phone and some cash, but left the purse.
The fifth theft I heard of was the same thing – two girls staying in a house and sleeping when their mobile phones and purses were taken out of their bedrooms as they slept.
The sixth theft I had happen to me… As I was teaching at a private school somebody removed one of the plastic plates on my Honda Nova 2-stroke engine and removed the electric ignition system (a black box that costs 1500baht plus if you get one new.) I am sure it was some of my students in my Mathyom 3 class who were always dicking around and getting smacked on the head with my dry-erase markers. One of them the son of the woman in charge of the English program there.
The seventh and eighth thefts happened as my motorbike was parked at the home I rented. This home was surrounded by students that were attending Rajabhat and technical college. They were very poor and for some reason there is a hot market for my ignition in that Honda Nova because that thing was stolen 3 times. Eventually, after the 3rd theft I had someone hide the ignition in a different than usual position on the motorbike and anchor it with 4 bolts in a case that was attached to the frame.
The ninth theft I experienced was a white motorbike helmet at the sports park in Surat Thani. Apparently I had forgotten to lock it – though I can’t honestly remember if I did or didn’t.
The tenth theft that I heard of was of a friend’s wallet. She was riding in Ubon Ratchathani and two guys – kids under 18 years old, pulled up beside her at the red light. Just as the light turned green they reached into the front of her basket and took her wallet.
The eleventh theft I heard of from a friend was of her mobile phone being taken out of her backpack while she was someplace that really SHOULD be more secure… a BANK.
The twelfth theft I experienced was when my… WHITE MOTORBIKE HELMET was stolen from my motorbike at the sports park in Sisaket as I was running. I was lax and didn’t think to lock it as there was nobody around except the guards at their little hut just 25 meters away from the motorbike. Did the guards do it? Oh by the way, I now have a red motorbike helmet…
The thirteenth theft I heard about was from a friend that was going to open her own food cart in town. She had teamed up with her friend from long ago that agreed to work part time on the cart when my friend had to do other things like take care of her children. My friend invited this old friend to her shack where they lived and my friend’s mother lived too. They ate and relived old times… The next day the “old friend” came back to the shack and talked to the old grandmother (75+) and asked her to get something for her that was in an out of the way place in the back. As grandmother did so, this old friend went into the sleeping area of my friend’s shack and stole the 7000 baht that she was going to use to start her food cart business.
I was shocked! How could she do that to her friend from grade school and high school? They were like sisters…
The fourteenth theft I heard of was from a friend that works at a hotel. She worked with a Thai guy, about 28 years old that was very friendly and it appeared, trustworthy. He would help everyone when he could and was always smiling.
This guy had a plan… On the day before he quit the job (and coincidentally maybe?) on the last day of the month when he was paid for a month of work… he borrowed the maid’s personal cell phone saying that he really needed it for one day because he was expecting an important call and his own phone was in the shop to be fixed.
Almost 20 minutes later he asked the same thing of the security guard that worked there – can he borrow the phone for just one day because he has an emergency call coming!
This guy did not return to work for the next 15 days, and only recently they’ve written him off as probably not returning! This guy left a bottle full of piss under his bed too – seems he was pee shy to use the restroom in the common area of the free apartment they provided for him to stay in while he worked at this hotel.
So, is there a theft problem in Thailand? Yeah, there is. Will you hear about if from the Thai people? Not really. I find that they don’t talk about it much. You’ll need to ask to hear anything.
I think Thais’ don’t talk about societal problems much. That’s been my experience. Not sure how other expats see it.
I haven’t even talked about the 3 thefts that have taken me for over 250,000 Thai baht since arriving in 2004! Why? I’ve hinted at 2 of them in past blogs, but recently there was another. These are high-level theives that have extorted money from me. It’s best to be completely above board here in Thailand because as soon as you do something that’s “iffy” you might face a lot of grief in the future over it. I have.
So – how about you? Have you experienced any kind of theft here in Thailand? Heard about any Thai people using the trust of their friends and co-workers to rip someone off?