A MAN suspected of riding the getaway motorcycle in the Michelle Smith murder has been arrested in Samutsakhon province, near Bangkok. Police have named him as Surin Taptong, 34. The arrest came in the Ban Phaeo district at 8am today, police said. He is now being brought to Phuket. Police say they are closing in on the second man, who wielded the knife. He is in another province.
PHUKET: Another bag-snatch on Phuket at the weekend sparked alarm as police continue a widening manhunt for the tall Thai who murdered Australian Michelle Smith.
In the latest case, the victim was a Korean tourist whose bag was snatched from a beach table while he swam late on Saturday at Kata, the next beach along from Kata Noi where Mrs Smith, 60, was knifed to death on Wednesday.
Phuket police reacted quickly and apprehended Nattasak Satitrong, 21, who confessed after he tried to ride a motorcycle around a checkpoint at Chalong, in southern Phuket.
Nattasak had a criminal record, said Sub-lieutenant Sirirat Chairat, who returned the bag to Korean visitor Kim Sui Yu.
Today Mrs Smith's murder and the drowning of six tourists on Phuket beaches in five weeks sparked a top-level review of security and safety on Phuket, with all of the holiday island's resorts being urged to improve security camera coverage.
Phuket Governor Tri Augkaradacha was joined at Provincial Hall in Phuket City by Phuket's leading elected official, Paiboon Upatising of the Phuket Provincial Administrative Organisation, and Phuket Tourism Association leaders.
''We need prevention in every aspect of tourism safety,'' said PTA President Somboon Jirayus, ''And we certainly hope the police can arrest Mrs Smith's killers quickly.''
Mrs Smith, a travel agent, was on a fact-finding tour of Phuket on behalf of the largest tour agent in Perth. Calls had been coming from other Australian agents about the hunt for her killers, Khun Somboon said.
Khun Paiboon added: ''We will arrange talks betweek resorts and police as soon as possible to spread Phuket's network of security cameras to the streets so that criminals know they cannot commit crimes and escape.''
Governor Tri has to front Thailand's powerful Senate Committee on Tourism in Bangkok tomorrow to explain the murder and the spate of drownings, which total eight in five weeks if the two deaths of Phuket tourists while whitewater rafting just off the island are included.
The largest ever crisis meeting on Phuket is planned for Wednesday with the Governor, top police, local council leaders and virtually the entire region's tourism industry represented.
Until the spate of recent drownings, fatalities at Phuket beaches and on the island's roads, where tourists often take risks riding motorcycles without helmets, had been trending lower.