Ukrainian confesses to armed robbery of currency exchange, police say

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A Ukrainian man has admitted to robbing a central Pattaya currency-exchange shop owned by Nongprue’s deputy mayor of nearly 200,000 baht, police said.

Ayder Bezaziyev confessed and was brought to re-enact for the media the armed robbery of Ratchata Exchange Co. on Third Road a day after the Feb. 9 heist.

Bezaziyev was picked up in South Pattaya near the Sayama Travel Co. the afternoon of Feb. 10. On him officers found 44,000 baht in cash, BB-gun pellets and a small portion of marijuana.

This still image taken from the security video camera allegedly shows Ayder Bezaziyev holding up the currency exchange shop.This still image taken from the security video camera allegedly shows Ayder Bezaziyev holding up the currency exchange shop.

The Ukrainian initially denied any involvement with the robbery of the shop owned by Nongprue Sub-district Deputy Mayor Suwat Rachatawattanakul, saying the money in his possession had come from customers of his travel agency.

Suwat, however, positively identified him and police matched images from closed-circuit cameras showing the robber had wrapped towels around his legs. Bezaziyev’s legs showed visible and identifying scars.

After further interrogation, the suspect confessed, police said, admitting to burying the rest of the money – 136,000 baht – in the yard of a house on Sukhumvit Soi 52 in Jomtien Beach. Police recovered it there.

He was initially charged with possession of a Class 5 narcotic with additional robbery and gun charges expected to follow.

The crime began around 9 p.m. Feb. 9 when Suwat said he was grabbed from behind by an English-speaking armed robber after going to his currency-exchange store. The gunman took about 200,000 baht from the cash drawer, he said.

Before the re-enactment, Bezaziyev told police he had used a BB gun and threw it into a wooded area in South Pattaya. Police were dispatched to search for the weapon.

Investigators said Bezaziyev claimed he’d robbed the shop to recover money he had embezzled from Sayama Travel, where he’d been working illegally since entering the country on a student visa via the Friendship Bridge in Nong Khai.

He said he also needed cash to buy an air ticket home to the Ukraine.