A week after two Iranians used stolen passports to buy tickets in Pattaya for the doomed Malaysian Airlines Flight MH370, another Iranian has been arrested in Pattaya for using a fake passport to allegedly steal a rental car.
Heidar Alirezaei, 56, was taken into custody after staff at car-rental shops on Soi Chalermprakiet 23 detained him March 15. Police found a fake Italian passport, Laos passport and various business cards on him.
Heidar Alirezaei was been arrested and charged with multiple offenses revolving around using a fake passport to steal and sell a rental car.
Pattarawadee Homkhajornthanathorn, 54, told police Alirezaei had used a passport under the name of Italian Damarco Celso Alfonso, 50, to rent a Toyota pickup truck from her J’Da Car Rent March 11, but had not returned the vehicle. Furthermore, she tracked the truck’s Global Positioning System tracker across the border to Laos near Nakhon Phanom and told other Pattaya agents to beware of the Iranian, whom she suspected of auto theft.
Alirezaei then appeared next door at Super Star Car Rent March 15 and owner Aran Singhsakda, 66, called her to say Alirezaei was trying to rent a Toyota Fortuner. When she arrived, he tried to flee, but was subdued by Super Star staff.
Alirezaei’s arrest came a week after an Iranian booked two tickets in Pattaya for fellow countrymen using stolen passports, including one from an Italian in Phuket. The incident has shone an intense spotlight on Thailand’s thriving black market for fake and stolen passports.
Alirezaei initially denied the theft charges, saying he wasn’t yet required to return the car. But under heavy questioning, the Iranian eventually confessed to having sold the vehicle in Laos for the equivalent of 150,000 baht, police said. He also claimed to have bought the fake Italian passport for 30,000 baht.
Lt. Col. Ratchthapong Tiasud said Alirezaei had entered Thailand at the Nong Khai-Laos crossing on June 21, 2012 under a temporary-residence visa, which expired Feb. 27, 2013. He had disappeared after that.
The Iranian, who said he runs a dental braces shop with his Laotian wife, said he was staying in Nonthaburi, but came to Pattaya to get another car, doubting he’d be recognized again.
Police said his Laotian passport carried his real name, but were investigating the document, along with a fake international driver’s license, and other documents they confiscated. Police suspect he is part of a trans-national auto-theft ring.
In the interim, he was charged with faking passports, possession or usage of fake documents, immigration charges and auto theft.