They got their man and had a free meal
This entry will probably seem like I’m scraping the bottom of the Bangkok Blog barrel. No Spirit Houses, no Tree Nymphs, no park scenes or monitor lizards. No, this is one of those entries that goes against the grain, but I couldn’t resist. So I’ll get on with it.
As one or two of you know, I enjoy reading detective novels and watching detective shows on TV – particularly the ones from Scandinavia and the UK. So while reading the newspaper the other day, I noticed an article with a story line that would fit right into one of the novels or TV shows that I like. It caught my interest because its epicentre was only two blocks away from our geriatric hospital, rehab centre and nursing homes. Another interesting aspect of this story is that located right across the street from our hospital is the mansion of one of the top cops in Bangkok who also takes care of this part of town, so we’re sort of hooked into the crime scene, as his folks talk to our folks all the time. They also eat in our restaurant. (At reduced rates, of course and sometimes for free – actually most of the time for free.) In addition to all of the stuff mentioned above, we also have the contract to deal with health and wellness for the Bangkok Police Force. So we’re into all this police world stuff.
Bangkok is a great place for westerners to conduct international crime. Because of visa laws that are pretty lax and a lack of requirements for an entry visa for most westerners, Bangkok is easy to get into and easy to get lost in. It also has a great network of established local and western bad guys into which a new crook can easily fit. And, of course, the food is great, the rents are cheap and the living can be easy. What more could a crook want?
So a couple of days ago, uniformed and plain clothes cops enter a building just near our place. They find a couple of Americans and a British guy, who might not really be a British guy, as well as a couple from Myanmar and a lot of fake passports, including lots for Canada. They find a safe. They find a large freezer. They ask the British guy – maybe he’s British – to open the safe. He does and pulls out a gun and shoots one of the cops – 3 times. (Who’s stupid enough to shoot at a cop with 15 other cops in the room? This is pure Elmore Leonard!*) Fortunately he’s a crappy shot at 2 metres and the cop is not badly hurt. The possibly British guy is taken down by the other 15 cops – amazingly with few injuries. There is money, guns, lots of crystal meth and marijuana and more passports in the safe. The cops ask one of the American guys to unlock the freezer. (Who locks a freezer?) And by the way, the guys tells the cops – this is not our freezer. So who’s freezer is it? A friend’s. We’re holding it for him. So why do you have the key? We don’t know. It came with the freezer. We never looked to see what’s in there. Big surprise inside. A body cut into 6 pieces with each piece separately bagged – 1 head, 2 arms, 2 legs and 1 torso – all in this freezer. This grosses even the Bangkok cops out. (One of them turned up at our restaurant later in the day, after reporting to the top cop across the street, and suggested that westerners are gross. Who cuts up bodies and freezes them he asked. In Thailand you throw a body into a river where there are crocodiles. It’s less messy and works better. But he wasn’t grossed out enough that he couldn’t grab a free meal at our restaurant.)
So the guys we know say that generally speaking, this is par for the course, except for the body in the freezer which, by the way, was fully clothed, or at least the various parts were. Bangkok is one of the world’s leading production centres for fake passports. So nothing unusual here. It turns out the couple from Myanmar were house keepers and not part of the action, so they have been released. The dead guy or gal has not yet been identified. Maybe I’ll find out before I leave.
The one final point that is truly unique to Thailand is that during much of this police action, reporters were allowed in and were able to take photos and video. (That’s where the photos above stolen from and where this video came from.) Let’s not worry about securing the crime scene or protecting the rights of the accused. Let’s add about 20 more sets of fingerprints. Let’s see what’s in the freezer. Unlike in TV shows where there’s tension between the cops and the reporters here, in Thailand, they seem to work hand in hand. This particular episode and likely the ones that came before and the ones that will follow would make a great TV series. Except for the dead body in the freezer, it’s not clear whether the series would be a comedy or drama. Oh, I know, maybe this story could be a made into a sequel of the 1986 movie called Thai Police Story – one of the worst movies ever made.
* From an Elmore Leonard interview with the Telegraph: “They’re so dumb, criminals. Every year there’s the same story. The guy who tries to rob a bank by going through the drive-in window. Or writes the hold-up note on an envelope with his name and address on it.”