Police hope observation tower puts teeth in much-touted Walking Street ‘safety zone’


Calling it a symbol of truly tighter security, Pattaya police are using their new observation tower to keep a better eye on tourists and crime on Walking Street.

Launched in September, the “safety zone” declared on Walking Street now has a more-prominent image, with a tower set up in the middle of the nightlife district from 7 p.m. to 5 a.m.

Officers scout the street with binoculars, looking for transvestite pickpockets, child beggars and other threats to tourists’ wallets and Pattaya’s image. It also serves as the base for a larger squad of foot patrol officers and volunteers.

Police can roll their observation tower into place… Police can roll their observation tower into place…

The observation tower has been erected at the north end of the street and volunteers from Pattaya’s 38 neighborhoods were recruited to join foot patrols from 6 p.m. onward each day.

Police also have begun to identify and register transvestites loitering on the street. Lt. Col. Kiattisak Srathongoil said information on more than 100 transvestites has been entered in a database officers can use when investigating crimes, such as druggings or pickpocketing.

Kiattisak said many of the light-fingered “women-of-the-second-category” would lurk in Walking Street’s darker southern end and, in the past, would commit crimes after foot-patrol officers had passed. With the observation tower, he claimed, someone is always keeping an eye on them and can dispatch officers immediately, if needed.

… to keep an eye on a larger section of Walking Street. … to keep an eye on a larger section of Walking Street.

He added that the increasing number of drug-involved robberies has not gone unnoticed and police are using their new South Pattaya base as a way to crack down on offenders and trace the source of sedatives back to drug stores selling them illegally.

Kiattisak said there also has been increased efforts to educate hotels to take copies of the identification cards of Thai women accompanying tourists back to their rooms. He acknowledged, however, that many times criminally minded hookers use fake cards or those belonging to someone else.