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Duty free dangers make flying out of Bangkok for the birds

Bangkok Airport Scam Condemned in Europe

Thursday, July 9, 2009
BRITAIN'S Foreign Office is reported to be reviewing its travel advice for Thailand amid fresh media coverage of a Bangkok airport scam and the ''harrowing ordeal'' of an Irish traveller.

In another blow to tourism in Thailand, the Irish newspaper the Kilkenny People relates the experience of Dr Angela Norris and adds that it ''should serve as a warning to people travelling there.''

Ireland's Department of Foreign Affairs and its British counterpart are reviewing their travel advice for their countries' citizens in Thailand.

Dr Norris, 41, who went to Thailand to address a conference, told Irish media she was surrounded by security guards as she left the duty free section at Suvarnabhumi Airport.

''They were shouting at me: 'You! You! You go jail six months,'' Ms Norris told the Irish Mail on Sunday.

She was accused of the theft of an eyeliner, taken to the airport police station then to Rajatewa police station near the airport, where she was detained overnight ''in filthy conditions.''

Released on bail, her passport was retained by Thai authorities - and when she went to Immigration police to retrieve it, she was arrested again, the newspaper reports.

''What is happening here is outrageous and needs to be exposed. It's a national scandal,'' said her husband, Ronan Loftus, who was forced to fly to Thailand to help his wife escape the ordeal.

The family did not disclose the amount of money that had to be paid, but a pair of British tourists revealed recently that they were forced to pay 9400 pounds for their own release after being held by an airport gang in Bangkok.

That couple, Stephen Ingram and Xi Lin, were also falsely accused of shoplifting in the airport.

The newspaper reports that the British Embassy subsequently issued a warning to people travelling to Bangkok: ''You should be careful to observe demarcation lines between shops and stalls, particularly in market areas and at Suvarnabhumi Airport.

''Taking items from one shop's area to another is likely to be treated by shop staff as suspected theft. You may be arrested by the police and asked to pay a substantial fine and/or face imprisonment.''

Many tourists from Europe bound for Phuket come and go via Bangkok.

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Comments

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5 years here, and its beginning to make me sick!

Posted by Sean on July 9, 2009 17:12

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Why isn't something being done to stop these airport criminals ? Alert the tourist authorities and government at once !

Posted by elizabeth on July 9, 2009 18:00

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Stephen Ingram and Xi Lin were actually caught shoplifting on CCTV. See King Power's explanation that 2Bangkok.com linked to.

Posted by ThaiDude on July 9, 2009 20:43

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They were not. The King Power video did not show Ingram and Lin. The people do not look like their Times photo. The "evidence" is inconclusive.

The UK and Irish governments should consider closing the TAT offices in their countries.

Posted by Joe Plombier on July 9, 2009 21:28

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Elizabeth ... It's the authorities who run the show! It's a case of "make any money you can, while you can."

Posted by Noddy on July 10, 2009 00:16

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Yes, Joe, its always the Thais who are despicable, incompetent liars. Especially those in authority.

Your countrymen, on the other hand, are honorable and beyond reproach such that it would only be right to close the TAT's offices overseas because they should not be allowed to operate in Britain and Ireland, based on the word of one couple.

I'm no nationalist but witness the double standards.

P.S. I hate scammers and thieves both.

Posted by ThaiDude on July 11, 2009 15:20

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Just stop buying anything in the airports !
You not save any money anyway, it is not cheaper then outside the airport or home !
Then will duty free shops maybe do something about the problem !

Thailand is getting a scam country, i have lived here 13 years and it is loosing its charm as "the land of the smiles" !!
Bad immigration officers, bad police staff, bad staff in airports !

It all make it hard to convince people to come here again !

Posted by Peter on July 11, 2009 16:00

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The blithely dismissive attitude shown by ThaiDude is emblematic of the mountain we still have to climb in Thailand if we are to defeat the corrupt elites and clean up all levels of society.

Luckily not all Thais are as callous and arrogant as ThaiDude. The rest of us should keep the Buddhist precepts in mind and build a better, more just, society.

Posted by Yutitham Z. on July 12, 2009 17:02

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Thaidude doesn't get it. I have been going to Thailand the last two years. Each time I spend at least $1000 US on hotels, restaurants, taxis, and buying Xmas gifts for my family. This year I skipped Thailand and instead went to Indonesia. Why? The airport closing and other political problems.

Now this. I read the response on the internet in TTR weakly by the TAT, Tourist police, and the police department that handled the arrests. Very unsatisfactory.

So I am voting with my feet and staying away unless I have confidence that police that are suspected of running extortion schemes are investigated and if warranted, prosecuted and if found guilty, jailed.

Posted by joelle on July 13, 2009 01:10

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i think the no links stops some very useful input into your work from bloggers who live to link sites that monopolise never last

Posted by john on July 17, 2009 00:07

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The Irish lassie admitted to walking away with a product without paying and the other vid shows the Chinese bird putting something in her bag. I tend to believe they both tried to steal or at least forgot to pay.

Editor: This is more about the scam than the guilt or innocence of those involved (and they are innocent for now.) It appears huge amounts of money have been demanded for people to extract themselves from this ''ordeal.'' That's the real issue.

Posted by Bjorn on July 23, 2009 14:46

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I agree with Yutitham Z. What's more the people who suffer the most from corruption are the ordinary Thai people as they go about their daily lives. And most often they do not have the means to voice their complaints.

Posted by zz on July 27, 2009 15:17

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My son has been accused of stealing a bottle of whisky after he purchased a bottle in Bangkok duty free. This was April 28 when he was waiting to fly out to Laos to start a job. He has been thrown into prison and is seeing a lawyer today. I am beside myself with worry and don't know what to do.

Posted by Anonymous on May 10, 2010 10:11


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