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Franco Menichelli with the ''sticky'' rod he used to steal on Phuket

Italian Expat Caught Stealing From Phuket Temple Charity Box: Stiff Penalty Likely

Tuesday, August 27, 2013
PHUKET: A security camera has captured an Italian expat as he stole 100 baht from a charity donation box at a Buddhist temple on Phuket.

Franco Menichelli, 54, used a metal rod with a sticky substance on the end to pull a 100 baht note from the charity box at Phuket's Karon Temple.

Monks at the temple spotted Sunday's theft in reviewing the security camera footage. Mr Menichelli was arrested yesterday when he went back to the temple to steal again.

He told officers from Chalong Police Station, in southern Phuket, that he was down and out and forced to steal to survive.

''I have been on Phuket for 10 years,'' he told them. ''I opened a seafood restaurant in Rawai beach [near Chalong] but it didn't work out. Now I am broke.''

The arrest of Mr Menichelli comes amid rising concern about the number of expats sleeping on the streets and unable to pay for hospital treatment on Phuket and throughout Thailand.

Public hospitals on Phuket are obliged to treat expats but often, the patients are unable to pay. Australians are reported to be among the worst at not paying their hospital bills.

It's understood Mr Menichelli was living with his Thai girlfriend in a low-cost apartment in Chalong.

Stealing from a charity box at a Buddhist temple is likely to bring Mr Menichelli a harsh penalty. He is likely to face a jail term when he appears in court, followed by deportation.

Comments

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shame it's come to this.. i'm sure if he was short of a meal the monks would have just fed him anyway..

Posted by another steve on August 27, 2013 10:15

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Since the money is meant to go into helping the poor, doesn't he then qualify for being poor?
Sure, he bypassed the long queue. But for someone deemed to be so poor he has to steal from a charity box there is only one thing to do.
Putting him prison will cost the Thai government more, so just revoke his visa, ban him from Thailand and he can go and live back at home.

With all this talk about "farang not paying hospital bills" etc to show compassion to his misfortunes. He shouldn't be banged up, just deported and maybe banned from coming back. This solution should stop Thailand complaining about how bad we drain their system (even though we all prop it up) and he can go back home where he will get Welfare from the government.

Posted by Tbs on August 27, 2013 11:43

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Sorry, there are always options - no one is "forced to steal to survive" from a temple charity box, this is really loathsome crime.

Posted by Terry on August 27, 2013 11:56

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farangs with no money are my lesser concern,
but that this island may drown in a giant pool of drugs is (youth)

Posted by benny on August 27, 2013 13:00

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I'm sure if he asked the temple for help. He would have received more than just hundred baht. He might not have received money but he would have been fed and helped.

Posted by Randy on August 27, 2013 13:01

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I look at this and think... A quick deportation and a ban on returning to the country for a specified period of time should be sufficient.

Posted by Anonymous on August 27, 2013 13:27

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Whilst I am sympathetic to his lack of money as he has been here for 10 years he should have known better than stealing from a Temple. Thailand is very one sided, the foreigners that are here pay VAT, pay rent, pay in most cases directly of indirectly for Thai ladies and in most cases do not need hospital treatment. Literally Billions of Baht in tourist/long revenue comes from foreigners and then the Thai government moans about a few millions Baht lost in Phuket. It's less than 1% of the revenue collected. Pathetic, emergency medical treatment should be free to all foreigners.

Posted by Fiesty Farang on August 27, 2013 13:31

Editor Comment:

FF, there's no big general pool of funds and no allocation to hospitals that takes account of your ''generosity.'' People who leave hospital treatment unpaid for should try harder. Because of their selfishness, it's the poor who suffer.

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For those advocating a quick deportation as sufficient - why should this crime go unpunished - theft is theft, and when it from a charity, it is particularly detestable - or are you advocating that theft is ok dependant upon ones circumstances?

Posted by Terry on August 27, 2013 14:18

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Did they really need to re-enact the theft with the abbott? Wouldn't have been enough for 100 baht a speech from the abbott and maybe a help from the temple even if not requested? Aren't they forgetting Metta in Thailand?

I've known this man this year at his restaurant in Raway since he was from my same home town we had a chat together. Had I known he was in such a trouble I would have helped him myself.

One hundred baht!

Posted by Pasquale on August 27, 2013 14:20

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I really do not understand tourists, particularly Australians not being able to pay there hospital bills.
I for one will never travel overseas without insurance which always coves all activities I plan to undertake. Not having insurance means you cannot afford to travel.
These freeloaders are a shame on my countrymen.

Posted by Arthur on August 27, 2013 14:30

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Bombastic if not sensational to say expats often don't pay for medical treatment. Gutter press reporting. Well done.

Posted by gee on August 27, 2013 16:27

Editor Comment:

Gee, thanks.

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Dear Ed, you're the boss and I love your site. What a sad tale. I broke the law yesterday when I picked fruit from my garden and gave it to people in the local village. An illegal act.

Posted by gee on August 27, 2013 16:48

Editor Comment:

Yes, very sad, with other alternatives available. When people say ''I've rather starve than steal'' I always wonder whether they're serious.

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Stealing from a Charity Box is despicable, however bad your own situation is.Perhaps a prison sentence appears harsh, but this is Thailand and one should respect the law here and accept the punishment and not compare it to our home countries.

Posted by Richard on August 27, 2013 17:24

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If being boring and hypocritical was a crime there wouldn't any expats here spouting off to impressionable young girls how much money and self esteem they haven't got. Knob ed's

Posted by gee on August 27, 2013 21:19

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@Gee or anyone that knows, why is giving fruit from your garden to locals illegal?

Posted by Fiesty Farang on August 27, 2013 22:52

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Why is someone who cannot pay hospital bills "selfish"? If would be easy to prevent this - just introduce a mandatory health insurance that tourists have to show up with at immigration. Standard in the EU - every Thai applying for a Visa need has to buy insurance first - otherwise no visa.

Posted by Martin on August 28, 2013 00:23

Editor Comment:

Expat residents are also non-payers and the issue with them is harder to solve.

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My experience here is that people quibble over very small amounts of money B100 for example. Are there any figures to back up this hospital story?

Posted by gee on August 28, 2013 06:16

Editor Comment:

Expats failed to pay at least three million baht at Vachira Phuket Hospital last year. But the hospital will always treat those who need care, regardless.

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If i stole from him at his restaurant I know what his opinion would be also seems Australias penal colony reputation is here to stay, seems everyone wants a free medical system how will this be paid for, its user pay and you pay plenty, travel insurance, don't leave home without it.

Posted by slickmelb on August 28, 2013 06:43

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Yes, the theft was wrong. If a man is in such a desperate steal to steal from a charity box, it is most likely a cry for help. Where is the compassion, and understanding these monks preach? As much as I am a hang'em high person, this crime could be handled very differently. A jail term for a 100 baht non violent crime is idiotic, particularly when there are violent criminals allowed to walk about and religious groups allowed to engage in their questionable practices.

Posted by ryan on August 28, 2013 17:49


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