Thailand’s legal code is very clear. Under Section 334, it is a crime punishable by up to 3 years imprisonment to ‘take away’ the property of another person ‘dishonestly’ and such an act is defined as theft. Of course, it would have been for a Thai court to decide if the Thai woman had not withdrawn her complaint this week. However, the UK man admitted to the crime when he tearfully offered her an apology this week after meeting her at the scene of the crime, the Friendship Supermarket in Pattaya.
The elderly foreigner who stole a Thai woman’s cash has been revealed. This comes after the man came forward and contacted the woman on Thursday last. He is Charles Edward Coote, a 79 year old tourist staying in Pattaya’s red light district for the last two months.
A tearful Coote admitted to the 30 year old Thai woman, Pratumrat Maymum, on Thursday that he had stolen her money as he was running low on funds after his extended stay at the Thai seaside resort, famous with foreigners the world over for its sex bars and good times. The Thai woman, to her credit, accepted the man’s apologies and asked Thai police not to press the matter further. The affair again raises the issue of the high degree of respect required for personal property, at all levels, in Thailand for foreigners living and visiting the kingdom. Thailand is still a place, thankfully, where property rights are jealousy guarded and where there is zero tolerance for infractions.
The 79 year old Charles Edward Coote from Barking in East London was in tears according to Thai woman Pratumrat Maymum when she meet him at the Friendship Supermarket in Pattaya on Thursday. The UK man is reported to be living on Soi 17 within the red light district of the city. He apologised to the Thai women for the theft from her of ฿2,000 (£50) cash on the ground of a checkout station last Monday when he deliberately concealed the money from her and later pocketed it. On Thursday, he returned the money to her after CCTV footage was published all over Thailand and the world, clearly showing his dishonorable actions. The UK man explained to her that his funds were low as he had been living in Pattaya for the last two months. ‘It’s still not an excuse for stealing,’ the Thai woman said afterwards but requested that police halt any further action in the matter. This has now been confirmed by Thai police offers in Pattaya.
Thai police have dropped their investigation and hunt for a foreign tourist who stole ฿2,000 from a Thai woman on Monday June 10th. This development came after the UK man involved in the incident, on Thursday, voluntarily came forward to resolve the matter after days of negative media coverage into his despicable and dishonest actions at the Friendship Supermarket in Pattaya this week.
The man can now be identified as Charles Edward Coote, a 79 year old UK tourist from East London who has been staying in Pattaya on Soi 17 in the city’s well known and extensive red light district for the last two months. The UK man is understood to have made contact with the victim of the crime, 32 year of Jeab or Ms Pratumrat Maymum whose money he stole on Monday. The theft of the money occurred when Coote concealed it from her gaze by sneakingly placing his sandaled foot over the two ฿1,000 notes which had slipped from the Thai woman’s purse. She was ahead of him in the check out and did not notice his actions as she paid her bill and interacted with the busy cashier.
Law in respect of property at a lower level is still upheld in Thailand unlike in a growing list of areas in the UK and Europe.
Thai law differs quite a bit from western jurisprudence and certainly so in today’s degraded era of law enforcement, particularly in the United Kingdom where Mr Coote hails from. He is reported to be from Barking in East London. In recent years, UK police have told small business owners and property owners that they will no longer respond to theft incidents with a monetary value of less than £150. This is also a trend in other European countries where police are now deployed to other ‘priorities’ that are considered a more significant threat to society. It has led to many business owners and even private property owners in London employing their own security or police services.
A similar case arose in Thailand in February and March this year when a 29 year UK man, Chris Dodd from Dorset in southern England, was arrested in Thailand and charged with the theft of a mobile phone at Chaing Mai International Airport. The UK man was, again, plainly guilty of a criminal offence under Thai law and facing a prison sentence. He had already been incarcerated in Chiang Mai prison when a lawyer, hired by his family using public crowd funding finance, negotiated a deal with prosecutors not to pursue the case. This is a mechanism allowed for under Thai law where the public interest is better served by the crime victim being compensated rather than the offender going to prison or suffering the full punishment that the law specifies. It is a practice increasingly being availed of by foreigners behaving badly in Thailand.
Thai police released information on that crime in April showing the UK man was guilty
The case involving Chris Dodd provoked further controversy in April when Thai police, in an unusual move, released information on the crime clearly showing the UK man’s guilt in the matter. It followed interviews given by Dodd on the BBC suggesting that he had been released as he was innocent of the crime or that the charges had been dropped because they couldn’t be proved.
This week’s case involving UK man Charles Coote, has evinced strong feelings among foreigners in Thailand. Some felt that foreigners are being unfairly reported on by media sources when they break the laws in Thailand. Certainly that may be true but perhaps rightly so. Western foreigners in Thailand, both tourists and expats, are held in high esteem by most Thai people. They are generally not Thai nationals or citizens and therefore should be required to be more respectful of the law in a country that is not their own or where the are guests.