Chiang Mai man books taxi, kills driver, uses car to rob gold shop

TUESDAY, JULY 09, 2024

A 26-year-old man has confessed to murdering a ride-hailing driver at a Chiang Mai beauty spot on Monday and then using his car to rob a gold shop in town, police said.

Suspect Nipitpon Somboonsukying had been planning the bizarre crime for the past nine months, said investigators at Bhubingrajanivej Police Station.  

He was arrested on Monday evening at his home in Doi Saket district, where police seized gold ornaments worth around 3 million baht, one gun and clothes he allegedly wore to commit the crime.

Police and rescuers also salvaged the body of the ride-hailing driver, acting Lt Suthep Chainanta, 48, which was discovered behind a roadside pavilion near Wang Bua Ban Waterfall on the slopes of Doi Suthep. The body was sent to Maharaj Nakorn Chiang Mai Hospital for autopsy.

Police Region 5 chief Krittapol Yisakorn said the incident took place at 4am on Monday after the suspect had parked his car at a Doi Suthep restaurant. He then walked two kilometres along a nature trail and booked the victim’s taxi.  

When Suthep arrived, Nipitpon shot him dead and moved the body to the passenger seat to steal the car. He then dropped the corpse off into a nearby cliff.

At around 11am, Nipitpon drove the taxi eight kilometres to a shopping mall in Chiang Mai city, where he held up a gold shop and stole 80 baht weight in gold ornaments, Krittapol said.

The suspect returned the stolen car to the spot where he had met the ride-hailing driver. He then walked back along the nature trail to his own car at the restaurant and drove back into Chiang Mai, where he attempted to sell the gold ornaments at five gold shops.

“Three of the gold shop owners refused to buy the gold after recognising the logo stamped on it from news reports,” Krittapol said. Shops in Doi Saket and San Kamphaeng districts agreed to buy the 10-baht-weight stolen items.

Chiang Mai man books taxi, kills driver, uses car to rob gold shop

Police said Nipitpon confessed to the crime alone, motivated by his family’s financial hardship.

The suspect’s love of playing games had inspired the devious murder plot, they added.

Nipitpon had been planning the crime since October last year, identifying routes, where to contact the ride-hailing taxi and the spot to dump the body.

Police charged him with premeditated murder, robbery, and illegal firearms possession.