Thailand Crime

Getting Crime in Proportion


Thai people are remarkably relaxed and easy going. Buddhist philosophy discourages 'hot bloodedness'. Politeness is ingrained from birth and most Thai people are both scrupulously honest and very unwilling to be intrusive.

Even so, Europeans and Americans are universally viewed as wealthy and this leads to temptation. Some Thai’s have learnt to prey upon travellers and expats and in Thailand, crime can be a threat as much as it can in any other country.

In matters of honour, business and love, Thai people can be transformed. 'Hot bloodedness' so frowned upon in Buddhist teaching can overwhelm individuals with fatal consequences.


The Statistics

Thailand ranks low for most reported crimes when compared with Western countries- with one big exception. Thailand is near the top of any list of countries for murder with firearms.

Gun crime is most often related to gang wars There is a serious problem of organized drug crime in the border areas with Burma, Cambodia and Laos. Guns are also often used to settle business disputes and jealous lovers- both men and women- use guns to settle scores depressingly often.

A few foreigners each year are caught in the cross fire. An unknown number of foreigners (a few dozen, maybe) are murdered deliberately mainly as a result of business disputes but sometimes by jealous or abandoned lovers. There are occasional reports of foreign men being murdered by their Thai wives for money or property,

Thailand's kids are some of the best behaved and likable kids in the world. Unfortunately, the number of murders committed by teenagers is frighteningly high- more than 1,400 in the last recorded year. Again, guns were the favorite weapon. Often the reasons for the murders are trivial matters of perceived disrespect.

Crime Thailand
Crime Thailand

Perception of Crime in Thailand

There is a widespread perception that crime is a serious problem amongst both Thais and expatriates. The local government in Phuket recently identified crime as being the biggest brake on the development of the tourist industry. Many expatriates believe crime levels in Thailand are as bad or worse than in their home countries, despite the statistics and in major tourist areas like Pattaya, Phuket and Ko Samui, this may be true.

Crime Statistics for Thailand http://www.nationmaster.com/country/th-thailand/cri-crime

Thai scammers can be young or old, male or female. They are all well dressed and far more 'helpful' than is normal.
Thai scammers can be young or old, male or female. They are all well dressed and far more 'helpful' than is normal.

Crimes against Foreigners

Scams


Scams are common in Bangkok. In fact, scammers are the first Thais you are likely to have contact with on arrival at the airport. The touts will offer tours which are overpriced and hotels which are dingy and expensive.

The best option is to queue for one of the official taxis that, for 600 bt, will take you into central Bangkok to a hotel of your choice.

Away from the airport, taxi drivers and tuk tuk drivers are most often the scammers in Bangkok. If you need a taxi, hail one of the thousands of brightly painted cabs with a Taxi-Meter sign on its roof. If the driver switches on the meter, all is well. The legal fares are not expensive. If the taxi driver doesn’t switch on the meter it is best to get out at the first opportunity. The fare will be exorbitant and he will try any line to keep you in the back of his taxi..

Most especially, beware of taxi drivers offering tours. These will include visits to grossly expensive shops and restaurants from whom the taxi driver will get commission.

Taxi drivers sometimes pick up their victims outside famous monuments claiming falsely that the monument is closed. They then offer their own alternative tour.

Most ordinary taxi drivers don't speak English and don't know Bangkok well (truly). Offering the driver a map- tourist maps are easy to find- is the best way to get to a destination. Hotel staff will write directions in Thai if you ask them.

Avoid touts offering to take you to a gemstone shop. They will sell at hugely inflated prices. The gem scam is famous enough to have it's own wikipedia entry.


The Easiest Way for a Man to Get Beaten Up (or perhaps even killed)

Go into a Thai bar and start hitting on the young women. This is going to antagonize someone.

Almost every young woman will have a boyfriend or a string of young men, each of whom who wants to be a boyfriend.

Even if you get encouragement from the woman (who might be flattered or might be thinking of money) this could easily end with an outraged Thai man getting his friends together to ambush you later.

Tuk Tuks

In Bangkok, Tuk Tuks routinely overcharge foreigners. In Phuket it sometimes amounts to money demanded with menaces. Small journeys attract exorbitant fees and if travelers refuse to pay, they can find themselves attacked.

The police are generally not too interested if you complain.

Tuk Tuk
Tuk Tuk | Source

Street Robberies

Street robberies are usually only a problem in highly commercialized areas like Phuket, Ko Samui and Pattaya. Large numbers of tourists with cash to spend attract criminal gangs. Ko Samui is notorious for bag snatching with gang members on motor cycles. Pattaya has a history of serious assaults during street robberies at night- often on drinkers walking home in the early hours. In Phuket, car drivers are stopped and robbed from time to time in the back streets and foreigners have been knocked from motor cycles and robbed.

Avoid back streets at night!

Sexual Assaults

Given the many millions of tourists in Thailand each year, sexual assaults on visitors are very rare. Even so, they do happen and both men and women have been targeted. Keep a clear head and be aware of your surroundings at all times. If you sense any problems leave immediately. Remember there is safety in numbers.

There have been occasional, unsubstantiated reports of travelers being given drugged food before being robbed or assaulted.

Foreign Gangsters

Russian mafia, English gangsters, pedophiles of every nationality, fraudsters and conmen: the main tourist areas of Thailand attract a bad crowd.

In a recent case, an elderly American retiree was shot after a very public internet row on a popular forum. He was resisting payment of exorbitant water rates demanded by an English property developer. The developer claimed the row had destroyed his 'business'. After the shooting, the Englishman fled. It was revealed that he was wanted as a leader of a drug gang in the UK.

Property Scams

It is never a good idea to buy property in Thailand through the internet or from ads in local papers without a lot of advise from locals. Property laws are complex and lawyers and developers should be suspect unless well recommended by people with nothing to gain.

Rural Areas

Rural Thais are usually kind, open and helpful people. There are still dangers though. It is well known for quiet country roads to be blocked at night and travellers to be robbed. Also young Thai men are as capable of violence as any other men in the world. Young travellers should be aware of insensitivity and drunkeness in quiet communities.

Full Moon Parties

There have been incidents when foreigners have been assaulted by local men at full moon parties on Islands near Ko Samui.

Crime Snapshot in Pattaya

http://holidaypattaya.blogspot.com/2009/01/pattaya-news-1-15-januari-2009-crime.html Pattaya is notrious for crime.
http://holidaypattaya.blogspot.com/2009/01/pattaya-news-1-15-januari-2009-crime.html Pattaya is notrious for crime.

Crime committed by Foreigners

Lese Majeste

This is the crime of insulting the King of Thailand or the monarchy. It is taken very seriously and can result in long prison terms. Generally, foreigners are pardoned by the King and deported but only after a long stay in detention prior to trial.

Gambling

All forms of gambling in Thailand are crimes except for the national lottery. Illegal card games are a national addiction, usually held in hotel rooms or back rooms of clubs and snooker halls.

Police enforce anti-gambling laws strictly and in many communities it is the cause of most arrests. Never get caught with cards and money on the same table.

Drugs


Tackling drug crime is a high priority for the Thai authorities. Police have the power to stop and search suspects, their vehicles and their homes without a warrant. Sting operations are sometimes used to catch drug users. Clubs may be raided and urine samples taken for analysis. Anyone proving positive will be charged. Amphetamines are a commonly abused drug.

Thai sentencing regimes are very variable, ranging from fines and deportation for possessing small quantities of marijuana to decade’s long jail terms for drug dealing.

Recently the new government has sworn to wage a new ‘War on Drugs’. During the previous 'War on Drugs’, arrests increased threefold, sentences became harsher and 2,500 Thai's died at the hands of police.

Trafficking can attract the death penalty- which is very bad for your health.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/1579641/Thailand-threat-to-shoot-4000-in-drug-war.html

Passport Irregularities


Passport or visa irregularities often result in a jail sentence of at least one year. Some companies and tour shops in the larger tourist centres offer to extend visas without the need to visit an immigration centre or leave the country. They then forge stamps in the passport which can lead to arrest when you try to leave Thailand.

You may be refused entry to Thailand if your passport is damaged, especially if any pages are missing.

Copyright and Illegal Software.


Ordinary Thais use pirate copies of Windows and other programs as a matter of course. Any computer shop will provide a full software package for free if you have an upgrade or need a repair.

Lately, though, Thai authorities are taking a tougher line on intellectual property and copyright infringement by businesses. Among other measures, a recent law gives almost any government body the right to search computers for illegal software without warrants. Dedicated enforcement units will raid businesses on tip offs. Staff are offered large rewards for turning in employers using illegal programs. Heavy penalties can result.

Thai Internet Laws


All Internet traffic is logged by ISP's in Thailand. Data and identities of surfers are retained for at least 90 days, Crimes range from hacking and fraud to lese majeste. All Internet pornography is illegal in Thailand.

Counterfeit Goods


Pirated Cd's, counterfeit watches, clothes, cell phones and almost any kind of fake goods you can imagine are on open sale in markets all over Thailand. The police occasionally take an interest and arrest a few sellers. If you take fake goods back with you, customs in your country may arrest you on arrival.

Vice

Prostitution is illegal but the law is rarely enforced. Even the most remote rural community has some form of paid sex available- usually through a karaoke bar.

In the last few years, underage prostitution (involving girls less than 18) has become a serious priority for police with many arrests.

Thai Prisons


Conditions in Thai prisons are generally poor with serious overcrowding and sometimes problems of TB, AIDs and poor medical treatment. Best avoided.

http://www.thaiprisonlife.com

Thailand Visa Overstay


Currently, visas are issued for thirty days at airports but only two weeks at land crossings. This is apparently to discourage people from staying long term in Thailand by making regular 'visa runs' to the border.

For overstaying your visa in Thailand there is a fine of 500bt per day. Overstaying for a long period can lead to arrest and imprisonment. The best option for anyone who overstays a visa long term- whether through illness or personal circumstances-is to exit through Suvarnabhumi International Airport. This is probably the only place where long term over-stayers are not arrested. The maximum fine is around 20,000bt- but this could change anytime and is worth checking.


Longer term visas can be obtained legally in a variety of ways. The rules are constantly altered and a visit to the Thai Visa Forum is recommended.

Visa-and-Immigration-Forums

Thailand's Deep South

A long running Muslim-Buddhist conflict has brought violence and crime to three of Thailand's, mostly Muslim,  provinces on the Malaysia border.

Most foreign countries advise against visits to Pattani, Yala and Narathiwat.

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Comments. No HTML or links please... 30 comments

Sam Shepards profile image

Sam Shepards 4 months ago from Europe

Tourist scams are quite rampant in Thailand. I guess you get used to all the offers and stories and in the end you ignore it. If it's toooo good to be true, it probably is. I think it can be difficult when people arrive for the first time, not being able to distinguish between normal friendly people and scammers. I never felt unsafe or anything which has been a whole other story in Eastern Europe and even some imported gangs in western Europe now.


Herbert 2 years ago

As it seems ; generally British or British isles people have problem with Thais more ( Top 5 : UK;AUS;US;CAN; or any English isles pp.) than other Nations .

Because most of "Anglo Saxons" prefer to fight back and shout to the local people in their own country.

even if you are % 100 right ; you should know that; you are in abroad as a foreigner. A wise guy knows that he is guest in abroad.

Thais are very quiet people but "no matter what reason" : if you shout them they turn to monster.


celthai45 3 years ago

well guys , just joined as i have been interested in All your comments and can relate to most of your issues myself , this is 14 years in and out of thailand , bought a whiskey bar , did not make 1 bht but lost 1/2 million , thais built up so many whiskey bars around mine after they found out i was a Farang and took over the area . owner of the land now his teenage kids run my bar after 1 year 3 year lease on the land


peter 3 years ago

i live in thailand four 2 years , am sick off the all the thai ladys and men scam, us for money just because we are fallang we dont shit money ,we work hard for it and when we came to thailand we injoy our stay, yes we are lucky of the money x/change diffrenses////


Brian harrington 4 years ago

I left the airport with 37k in thai bath this was on an early friday morning i counted when I woke up i had 21 k in thia bath i did set more then 11500 in thia bath but I can't figured out how did 16k in thia bath went about very misterous things happen in thialand for some reason then another that is why i don't like taking cash


Simba73 profile image

Simba73 4 years ago from UK

Get ya bro ,

I was only 31 when I married my Thai wife and the village rumour was that I was 17 , I had a baby face you see, but Thai culture sure changed that LOL , lived out there and had kids built a home, and had the looks etc, but the fiscal drive of new wave of Thai culture has changed thing in a big way, the minute they see the Farangg dream or misunderstood wealth the greed takes over (not all thai's for sure) But I would say it's more likely to happen than not. These days there is too much keeping up with the Jones and they are getting a lot wiser how to milk the situation. In Thailand and in the Expats home countries.

I have to be honest I thought I was the exception to the rule but Ha !!!

not so LOL

Simba


Will Apse profile image

Will Apse 4 years ago Author

I left out many of the pitfalls of relationships. Men are often deceived by their girlfriends and wives. And you are right, that deception becomes a crime where money is involved.

It is hard to have sympathy sometimes, though. Old guys taking up with young women and allowing themselves to be fleeced...

If you think that you can buy love, you are just deluded.


Simba73 profile image

Simba73 4 years ago from UK

I 've suffered crime in thailand, some my fault with ignorance some violence which was quite heavy and only managed to stay out of hospital because police came around the corner by chance, and more importantly, the deceit and un Buddhist like ways that expat Thai families scam money from their western son-in-laws, this is something that should be high lighted, I had always defended them in the past but in the cold light of day it would not be acceptable in any corner of the world, so I want to warn all you guys to keep alert, I would say from my experience that 90% of the strange requests for money are lies.

Don't act with your heart in Thailand despite the ego they will give you for being a good man etc, as they most likely have been plotting with each-other a way to relieve you of cash.

anyway just arant but the truth none the less.

Simba


Metrox 4 years ago

I live in Koh Samui for 3 years now and no problem, I agree to say that most of the concern are concentrated in tourists area, Chaweng for Samui, Patong for Phuket, and Pattaya. I also have to say, that I never saw elsewhere in the world such irespectuous drunk tourists. There is also a lot of expats who are very rude, some are gangsters who fled their home country. Except on the roads I fell very safe here.


Will Apse profile image

Will Apse 4 years ago Author

lol, I don't tell my Mum much, either.

And, of course, you are right about the average Thai person being very friendly.

I am very watchful in tourist areas and have learned to spot potential trouble quickly. The most important thing is only drinking in safe places. And not stealing Thai guys girlfriends...


livingabroad profile image

livingabroad 4 years ago from Wales, UK

Well, what an eye-opener!

I have lived in a rural town in Thailand for a year and never had any problems although it was common knowledge that somebody got murdered in a club not to far from us on new years eve. I'd always heard of things like this happening but never knew whether to believe it or not until it actually happened. I have to say though the local people there are the warmest, friendliest and helpful I've ever met, and I'm sure you have similar things to say. Never did I not feel safe in the town where I lived.

Regarding tourist areas its obviuos that this is where the main problems occur with tourist's. I actually got spiked in a club in Koh Samui. Luckily, at the time I was with someone so my belongings didn't get stolen, or worse.

My advice to anyone would be to keep your wits about you in these areas, don't do things you wouldn't usually do at home respect Thai culture.

Regarding the information in your hub it's clearly evident not to get on the bad side of SOME Thai people. On the whole however, from my personal experiences I would say Thai's are generally good hearted, kind and friendly - forgetting the scammers, thugs and some corrupt police. But doesn't every country have these?

Some really useful information here and advice for prospective travellers coming to Thailand to be aware of. Let's hope my mum doesn't read it.


anonymous 4 years ago

Well, what an eye-opener!

I have lived in a rural town in Thailand for a year and never had any problems although it was common knowledge that somebody got murdered in a club not to far from us on new years eve. I'd always heard of things like this happening but never knew whether to believe it or not until it actually happened. I have to say though the local people there are the warmest, friendliest and helpful I've ever met, and I'm sure you have similar things to say. Never did I not feel safe in the town where I lived.

Regarding tourist areas its obviuos that this is where the main problems occur with tourist's. I actually got spiked in a club in Koh Samui. Luckily, at the time I was with someone so my belongings didn't get stolen, or worse.

My advice to anyone would be to keep your wits about you in these areas, don't do things you wouldn't usually do at home respect Thai culture.

Regarding the information in your hub it's clearly evident not to get on the bad side of SOME Thai people. On the whole however, from my personal experiences I would say Thai's are generally good hearted, kind and friendly - forgetting the scammers, thugs and some corrupt police. But doesn't every country have these?

Some really useful information here and advice for prospective travellers coming to Thailand to be aware of. Let's hope my mum doesn't read it. :)


pee fenk 4 years ago

Lived 18 years in thailand,never have problems" cBut alot off english drunken idiots,get followed at night by thais and beaten up"but dont worry about this"""Funny";-)


Will Apse profile image

Will Apse 4 years ago Author

Stats like this are notoriously unreliable. Stats gathered from health authorities can be different to stats gathered from police sources. Also, the various 'league tables' comparing countries for various crimes differ widely.

I have seen Thailand ranked number one for murders. I have seen it as low as fourth.

The current stats on Nationmaster.com rank it number one with 70 murders per hundred thousand.

I think the main point is that Thailand is one of the countries where gun murders are most common.

Also that figure of 32 murders per hundred thousand matches my personal experience of watching local news in Thailand. In a town of sixty thousand people (where I lived for a long time) there were generally one or two murders a month. You can do the mathematics yourself.

As for the Bt 600 taxi ride- it is about what you would pay in London and it will get you to the place you want to go. Tuk tuks are another story.


John 4 years ago

Just scanning through this article there are just way too much incorrect info. First, if you pay 600 BT to go to downtown from the airport then you are being ripped off. Second, it is repeating an incorrect stat that listed all gun crimes in Thailand as murders. Do you really think 32 people per thousand are murdered by gun in Thailand while only 2.8 are in the US ????


Will Apse profile image

Will Apse 4 years ago Author

It sounds terrifying. I hope you have some good friends around you.


silent 4 years ago

seriously, if you are a woman --- please be careful. last night i was sexually assaulted by a thai man in a bathroom in bangkok and i was kicking and screaming but nobody did anything despite my cries. another one of my female friends was beat up by her taxi driver in pattaya in front of multiple people, who also did nothing. thai people will oftentimes stand aside and watch as people have traumatic experiences, rather than interfere with any situation. i am pretty traumatized about what happened to me last night, but there is literally nothing i can do about it. i had to run (run, yes, run) to a taxi in order to get away from the guy, and had to clock him in the face in order to keep him from following me into the cab. i am grateful it didn't turn into a rape scenario, though it was clear this is where he was going. my advice to women - its ok to go out alone, but don't do it late at night, and always be incredibly careful. even places you think you are safe -- the bathroom, for example -- may not be safe places. stay abreast of every situation.


Will Apse profile image

Will Apse 4 years ago Author

Thanks for your comment, Nick. An issue like crime is always difficult to get in perspective. On the one hand, it will never be an issue for the majority of visitors or expats. On the other, it is worth being aware of the rare problems that can arise.


nickupton profile image

nickupton 4 years ago from Bangkok

Excellent lens. I have lived in Thailand for 15 years and have never been a victim of a crime. In a similar period of time in UK I was mugged once, had my car vandalized 3 times, had a car stolen and assaulted in the street once.

I have never been stopped and searched in Thailand as one commenter implies is common - it is not.

If you get into any trouble it is best to contact the Tourist Police. They are far better than the regular police.


Nick Siddall 4 years ago

I have to go to Bangkok every month on business & every time I walk down the street I get stopped & searched by motorbike cops, even in the middle of the day...Sometimes it can happen twice in the same day...I never see anyone else getting this treatment. At first I was polite, but now I am getting worried that they will plant something on me, so I tell them I want their badge number & then we go to the police station to do a search & they very quickly tell me to go....They are blatantly corrupt cops & the government should make a law to restrict stop & search on tourists


Will Apse profile image

Will Apse 5 years ago Author

There is a report on one incident here: http://www.phuketgazette.net/archives/articles/201...

Seems the tuk tuk driver in this case reckoned some tourists had taken his parking spot.

Glad I live somewhere, quiet!


TravelinAsia profile image

TravelinAsia 5 years ago from Thailand/Southeast Asia

Crime in Phuket is making headlines lately, with several high profile attacks involving tourists. There has been at least a half a dozen violent attacks on tourists by tuk tuk drivers, with not one arrest being made. There is a serious concern that travel warnings will be issued by several European countries.


mana 5 years ago

Thai police is not that helpful to tourists - my son was defending himself from a thief - the police there beat him up and put him in jail. forget helping the victim - they punished the victim instead - theif went free.


TravelinAsia profile image

TravelinAsia 5 years ago from Thailand/Southeast Asia

Andrew Drummond makes a good point.

It is very difficult to report a crime in Thailand.

My wallet was stolen in Phuket and I went to the Chalong police station and attempted to file a report. They refused and told me to F### off. A year later one of my rental motorcycles was stolen, and the customer that had rented it was beaten and robbed. The police again refused to file a report. Both crimes were part of a series of similar crimes that were common in a certain area, any half decent cop should have been able to solve these crimes. Thai police are only interested in extortion and bribery, actual police work is not what they do!


Andrew Drummond 6 years ago

Interesting. But perhaps a little on the bright side. The murder rate may in fact be a lot higher. Crime reporting in Thailand is innefficient to say the least. And police often control the crime.


Will Apse profile image

Will Apse 6 years ago Author

Crowds are always reassuring. There a lot of police in Thailand and they are surprising decent people, on the whole. They do disappear at night though, except in the main tourist areas.


Risey 6 years ago

User KRAJI stated that he felt safe in Thailand during his stay. However its very important to understand that as soon as you feel safe your guard may lower and your street sense diminishes, please be wary at all times in Thailand, if you are approached by a stranger and you feel unconformable, walk away to a busy area.


kraji profile image

kraji 6 years ago from Slovenia

Very well written hub!

I have been in Thailand two times and I must say that I felt very safe there all the time, much more than in western countries.


Will Apse profile image

Will Apse 7 years ago Author

Thx 4hourmike. I will return as a great general said about some nearby islands. I am counting the days.


4hourmike profile image

4hourmike 7 years ago from Thailand

Will, this is another great hub about Thailand. Both of your Thailand hubs are well researched and well written. What ever prompted you to go back to the UK?

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