By THE NATION
The daring daytime robbery took place on Monday (May 18) at around 10am in front of the Chiang Sen Bangkok Bank branch in Chiang Rai province, where two assailants dressed in black and wearing motorbike helmets held a bank employee at gunpoint, then grabbed Bt1.05 million in cash before fleeing the scene on a blue Honda Wave motorcycle. The money was scheduled to be delivered to the agricultural cooperative for purchasing unmilled rice from farmers.
“One of the suspects, Sitthichoke Meuangma, 34, turned himself in on Monday evening after the police announced they have evidences to identify the thieves,” Chiang Rai police chief Pol Maj-General Yutthachai Phuaprasert said today (May 19). “He initially admitted that he owned the black outfit seen in the CCTV footage and the 9mm handgun, which he had stored at a friend’s house in Pasak subdistrict.
“At around 11pm, Sitthichoke then told officers that he’s ready to make a confession,” said Yutthachai. “He stated he was a former employee of the Chiang Saen agricultural cooperative and had been terminated on April 1 due to a frequent leave of absence. He allegedly planned and executed the robbery with his brother-in-law, Cheunjai Konkham, 48, who drove the motorcycle. The two later divided the money, with Sitthichoke allegedly getting Bt550,000 and Cheunjai taking Bt500,000.”
Sitthichoke reportedly told the police that he used Bt91,000 to pay for his car, which he pawned at a shop in Mae Sai district, and spent Bt200,000 to settle a gambling debt (to do with cock fighting); he also transferred Bt84,000 to an online gambling website that he had invested in. Police found another Bt156,920 in his car that he claimed he had withdrawn earlier from a bank in Mae Sai.
The police plan to get Sitthichoke to re-enact the crime at the scene today and will track down Cheunjai, who is believed to have fled to Phayao province.