The remarkable theft of a diamond in the Thai capital Bangkok reads like a film scenario: a criminal briefly rented a vacant shop and turned it into a fake jewellery store. The only reason for all this? Raising the confidence of an Indian diamond merchant who wanted to wear his diamond of ten million baht (almost 269,000 euros). The theft succeeded, but suspect Pipatpongpat Suksawatpipat could be caught after a few days.
The 59-year-old suspect was once a successful jeweller in the eastern province of Chanthaburi, became addicted to gambling and lost almost all his capital. His last straw was the phone number of the Indian diamond merchant Jain Vaiphav whom he had once met at a jewellery fair. The two remained in touch afterwards. Suksawatpipat found out that the Indian wanted to sell the expensive diamond. The fifties thought of a bold plan that many Hollywood writers would be jealous of. He showed interest and was able to persuade Vaiphav to travel to Bangkok. Suksawatpipat wanted to look more closely at the diamond in his ‘shop’. From then on, there was no time to lose.
The almost bankrupt gambling addict used his last 40,000 baht (just over 1,000 euros) entirely for the implementation of the plans. He hired a vacant shop in a posh neighbourhood in Bangkok for a short time. Suksawatpipat received the keys one week before the arrival of the 44-year-old diamond. He needed 20,000 baht to make the store look credible as a jewellery store. With his very last cents, he replaced the lock of the entrance door and hired a Cambodian scooter driver.
Less than three minutes
Last Tuesday it was so far. Diamond merchant Vaiphav was not aware that Suksawatpipat had serious gambling problems and flirted with bankruptcy. Together with his assistant, he was warmly welcomed in the shop around three o’clock in the afternoon, which was to continue as a jewellery store. Suksawatpipat received and asked the gemstone. He reminded the 44-year-old diamond business that he wanted to examine the diamond in the daylight. He stepped out with the stone and put the new automatic lock into operation, preventing Vaiphav and his employee from fleeing from the store. Suksawatpipat put it with the diamond in his pocket on a walk to an agreed place, where he was picked up by the Cambodian on his scooter. The remarkable theft happened in less than three minutes.
Guns of diamond Vaiphav injured his hand when he hit a shop window. He had to quickly stop the chase. The police immediately treated the theft as a top priority. The Suksawatipipat search report was distributed throughout the country. The jewel thief could stay out of the hands of the police until Friday. The man was tagged that day with his wife near a border crossing with neighbour Cambodia.
However, the diamond was no longer in its possession. He declared that he had sold the gemstone to a Vietnamese acquaintance from the gambling environment. The man paid him 500,000 baht (13,500 euro) for it, much less than the real value. Suksawatpipat had conceived the plan to start gambling with the proceeds in a casino in Cambodia, but so far it did not come. The fifties have been arrested and is sitting in the cell. On Saturday, he showed the Bangkok investigators how he had worked on the theft. The scooter rider and an accomplice who had to get him across the border are as yet free.