Police nab 1 of 4 wanted in ATM heist

Friday, 09 May 2014 From Issue Vol. XXII No. 19 By  Boonlua Chatree

Police have arrested one of five men who allegedly used a blowtorch to steal millions of baht from a Pattaya automated-teller machine.

Athit Sangprasert, 32, was captured May 1 at his home in Pathumthani. Region 2 police recovered 200,000 baht in slightly singed 1,000-baht notes, along with welding equipment and the black Honda CR-V identified in security-camera footage at the Siam Commercial Bank ATM outside S-Concrete Co. of Sukhumvit Road.

Three other suspects remain at large in the April 29 heist, although police said they have identified all three men and have issued arrest warrants.

Police had Athit re-enact the burglary in front of 50 officers and the media May 2. The suspect showed how the crew backed their Honda close to the ATM, moved the closed-circuit television camera with a long stick, then strung a welding tube through the keyhole of the ATM cabinet and fired it up with a gas canister in the car.

Suspect Athit Sangprasert shows police how he allegedly helped steal millions of baht from a Pattaya automated-teller machine.Suspect Athit Sangprasert shows police how he allegedly helped steal millions of baht from a Pattaya automated-teller machine.

The operation took 40 minutes and, in the end, the thieves escaped with two bags of cash containing 5 million baht.

The same burglars are suspected to have committed four other ATM robberies in Bangkok, but were never caught. Region 2 police officials praised Pattaya and Nongprue station officers for their quick work.

Phaithun Suttiprapha, 36, a security guard at the concrete company, said he saw four men with their faces covered dragging equipment away from the ATM, which is located about five meters from the front door. He said he assumed they were technicians there to service the machine and did not pay any mind until he saw them fire up the welding gear to cut through the lock.

Region 2 Maj. Gen. Khatcha Thatsart said police have repeatedly warned banks not to locate ATMs in narrow alleys as they are difficult for police to patrol. He said banks also should install cameras and alarms to immediately notify law enforcement of break-ins.

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