People who work at Phuket's Nai Harn beach staged a citizen's arrest today and say they nabbed the man soon after he lifted a bag from a tourist's table.
The arrest of the expat follows a string of thefts at Nai Harn beach this year that the tourists who were the victims have usually blamed on Thai beach staff.
Late today at Chalong Police Station, the man was yet to confess. He told police he did not speak English and made conversation difficult.
Perplexed and annoyed at the accusations over the past few weeks, the Nai Harn beach staff decided to catch the thief themselves, beach vendor Song Saentong said today.
''Last week there were three thefts of bags,'' he said. ''There have probably been eight so far this year.
''Yesterday, we saw the man we suspected. He came with just a yellow towel. He went for more than one swim, but every time this man goes into the water, he tends to look back at the beach.
''There was a theft yesterday and the people who had a bag stolen insisted on looking through the possessions of Thais working on the beach.
''Today the man with the yellow towel came back again. We decided to use walkie-talkies to make sure somebody was watching him at all times.
''Sure enough, he spent a lot of time wandering around the beach, and looking back at the beach when he went for a swim.
''When he picked up a bag, we grabbed him quick.''
Khun Song said that security cameras showed the same man stealing two bags on the beach on February 19.
Late today, the man was still being interviewed.