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Melnikov Dmitovich at Phuket City Police Station last night

Phuket Dilemma for Russian Tourist and Motorcycle Renter When Bike is Stolen

Monday, November 11, 2013
PHUKET: A Russian tourist who left the keys in a rented motorcycle caused a dilemma for Phuket police and for the motorcycle renter yesterday.

The bike was stolen, leaving Melnikov Dmitovich and renter Sakda Saejiw at loggerheads last night at Phuket City Police Station over who was responsible and what amount of compensation should be paid.

Mr Dmitrovich, 27, returned to the spot in Yaowarat Road where he parked the blue Honda Click about 9.45pm and found it had disappeared.

Told last night that Phuket was not so safe you could leave the key in a motorcycle, Mr Dmitrovich said: "I didn't know that. Now we know."

Khun Sakda was particularly annoyed because he had lost money in dealing with a previous motorcycle that was hired by a Russian. The motorcycle disappeared, then the Russian disappeared, too.

Khun Sakda said: "Nothing can guarantee that the bike will be found. Mr Melnikov has to give me money to make sure that he won't go away without compensating for the loss.

''I don't want to do this. I don't want the money. I just want my bike back. Five months ago, a Russian tourist lost his rental bike and went back to Russia without doing anything.

''Now the passport is still at my house. I learned my lesson," Khun Sakda said.

The price of a new motorcycle is 55,000 baht, but the lost bike has been used for two years so with depreciation, the value was set at 35,000 baht.

Sadly, Melnikov Dmitrovich only had 25,000 in his bank account and asked for a discount. He still has three weeks of his trip to go.

Khun Sakda was asked to settle for 24,000 baht so Mr Dmitrovich could but some food. "Be nice to him," said police.

With great reluctance, Khun Sakda finally agreed.

''I'm nice. I don't want the money. My motorbike costs 35,000 baht and he gave me 24,000 baht. Please understand us.

''We work with the tourists, they're not always the victims, the tourism businesses are the victims too."

Khun Sakda was to provide another bike for Mr Melnikov as the replacement today because Mr Melnikov had already paid a month's rent.

"Please be careful this time. Don't leave the key in the bike," Khun Sakda said.


Comments have been disabled for this article.


Why isn't insurance involved? Surely a motorcycle rental company wouldn't rent out uninsured bikes would they?

Posted by A local on November 11, 2013 14:50


Khun Sakda - I understand your point but in this case you are both victims.

I would suggest you bundle mandatory theft insurance with every bike rental.

This should not add much to the total cost but would ensure neither you nor your customer suffers financial loss if the bike is stolen.

Having said that, you do know that by keeping a passport as a deposit you are indeed breaking the law ? I hope the police pointed this out to you and you will refrain from doing so in the future.

Useful advice for anyone renting a bike, in particular a big one on Phuket:

bring a small brake disk lock with you or buy one locally far away from the rental shop.

Always use it when parking overnight. It costs about EUR 50 abroad and weighs about 0.3kg. Even a regular gate lock will suffice and cost no more than Bt 200.

This way you can avoid falling victim to the scam where the renter "Steals" the bike with duplicate keys and then charges you for the disappeared bike.

Do NOT use any extra locks they might provide, only your own.

Posted by ThaiMike on November 11, 2013 14:55


On another note, I hope the police made a note in their report that if the bike is recovered or suddenly turns up with K. Sakda again, the Bt 24.000 will be returned to Mr Dmitrovich.

Demanding immediate cash payment is not justified. Even an insurance company usually has at least a 30 day waiting period before they pay up in theft cases.

You can purchase extra coverage for them to provide you with replacement vehicle for the said time period until either 30 days has elapsed or the vehicle has been recovered.

Posted by ThaiMike on November 11, 2013 15:03


@ A local
Haha. Of course, absolutely every vehicle is insured in thailand, isn't it?
Even if they were, do you think insurance companies would pay out on all the "thefts"?

Posted by jimbo34 on November 11, 2013 15:12


Never tell mtorcycle renters where your staying. Double set of keys and your bike is up country before dawn. They will get Insurance pay out and the poor victim Cash. Not saying this is whats happened here but a popular scam everywhere. How do I know)

Posted by thomas on November 11, 2013 15:25


"Why isn't insurance involved?"
Don't know if he had insurance, he shpould as he is renting out bikes, but in this case that won't matter very much. No insurance company will pay if somebody leaves the keys in the bike.

Posted by stevenl on November 11, 2013 15:37


Theft of motorcycle with KEYS LEFT in the engine will never be covered by any insurance policy in this world.

The guy obviously was too relaxed on holiday, and, may be, too young and unexpierenced about what is the reasonable standard of taking care of your staff on the street. The only fact that the bike is left not at street in Moscow, but in Phuket, does not overhaul completely the standard of reasonableness about safekeeping of your belongings.

About insurance there 2 more points, but which are valid for a bike in motion: first, whether a driver has a bike license at all - most of tourists, who drive bike here do not hold it at all; second, even if Yes, whether it is a one that issued by Thailand authorities - as You can legally drive a vehicle in Thailand only if you are holder of Thailand issued one - it is possible to obtain that but you have to spend almost whole day of your vacation time in Phuket town.
Hardly anyone of tourists , who drive bike comply with if - that make any insurance meaningless , as insurance company will not pay any loss if driver did hold a legal right to drive a bike at the place and in time of an accident.

Posted by Sue on November 11, 2013 15:48


- Sue

You got just about everything wrong.

You do not need a Thai driving license to legally operate a motor vehicle in Thailand. If you rent, the driving license issued in your home country is valid for up to 90 days.

Thailand has separate driving licenses for cars and motorbikes. Every EU country has a single license with different classes of vehicles one can drive.

The right to operate a motorbike depends on it's engine size. Different countries have different regulations but for example in my home country anyone who qualified for a passenger car license up to 3.500 kg before 1992 can also legally operate any size of motorbike.

After that the right was reduced to engine size of 125cc and smaller.

This is stated both in my native and international license, thus I can legally operate any size motorbike in Thailand. Both rented, leased or owned.

Almost all scooters in Thailand are 125cc and smaller. The customer in question clearly rented the bike, thus no need for a Thai license.

Even if you own the vehicle, you still don't need a Thai license. International Driving license will do just fine. Your local Automobile Club will issue you one for a fee.

On a lighter note, I seriously doubt the driver left the keys in the engine. That would be incredibly difficult to do.

I'm quite sure the keys were left in the ignition instead.

Besides, I see motorbikes parked with keys left in ignition almost daily and I don't go around looking for them.

Whoever told you what you just wrote here simply is not true.

Posted by ThaiMike on November 11, 2013 17:07


ThaiMike, with respect I don't know where you get your info from re a foreign license is valid for 90 days but as I understand it there are only 2 licenses valid here in Thailand, an International Permit which verifies your current driving license in your country and/or a Thai License. Try getting any Thai Insurance company to pay for damages incurred an accident you've been involved in, your fault or not, they will not pay compensation unless you have a Thai license. I've met many unfortunate foreigners here who have been refused insurance payouts because of this. If you can come up with some evidence of the 90 day rule I would appreciate it and if you could put it on here for all to see. There are hundreds of nationalities visiting Thailand so would all of those countries driving licenses be valid here for 90 days? Thanks for any help.

Posted by seht1912 on November 11, 2013 20:41


Why the demands for insurance? The renter was responsible for the loss to the rented property. He took the bike and it was in his care, control and custody. He made the decision to rent and he could have asked about insurance and declined to rent if he had bothered to verify what would happen in the event of a loss. The renter is 100% liable for the loss. The owner made the business decision to retain the risk in the event of a loss. This is not unusual. Major rental companies do the same thing. (What they sell renters is a Collision damage waiver in the event of physical damage and it is in not insurance. It is however a major source of profit .) Without insurance, it is the responsibility of the owner to take steps to ensure compensation in the event of loss and that is what was done. Requiring immediate payment is the SOP of rental agencies and again a source of profit. There is a reason why the multinational rental agencies take a large deposit on a credit card at the time of the rental and will not release the deposit until after the rental. In the event of a loss, the multinational rental agencies charge the renter for loss of use and the loss of use s not insured under a conventional insurance contract, only by the rental agency's CDW. . Are people aware, that in USA/Canada that non locals when they incur a driving fine, unless covered by an interstate/provincial agreement, get hauled off to a police station where they remain until either a bond is posted, or the fine is paid? Did the renter even have a legal right to drive in Phuket? This mess highlights suggests that neither party to the rental agreement was in compliance with the laws governing rentals and driving on Phuket. It also highlights that the type of tourist with only 25,000 baht in his bank account isn't the best type to allow in for a long term visit. I'd be surprised if he had health insurance too.

Posted by Ryan on November 11, 2013 21:05



Dear ThaMike,

I am sorry, but you just got everything wrong:

1. Documents for tourists to have a legal right to drive in Thailand:

For the sake of simplicity I used in my previous post not exact legal terms calling document that gives legal rights to drive in Thailand "Thailand authorities issued driving licence", it is , of course a document with a bit different name, but it does not alter the substance.

here I am citing original text of "Phuket Provincial Land Transport Office Government Driving Licenses Information Phuket Thailand":

"International Driving Permit
Foreigners who temporarily have the permission to stay in Thailand and have the international driving permit (convention on international road traffic of 19 September 1949) which is not expired and would like to use it in Thailand, please hand the application form and needed documents as following to

Phuket Provincial Land Transport Office
The application
Passport (and 1 signed copy of ID page)
One signed copy of Visa page in passport
International Driving Permit (original) and one signed photo copy, all pages.
Implementation Process
Document inspection
25 baht payment
Permission seal will be entered at the back of the blank pages."

It is not , of course, a procedure of obtaining the full Thai driving licence , that is to be used by those who are long-term in Thailand - in practical terms, folks are not allowed to use IDP as long as they got some longer term immigration status, than 90 days, they have to get Thai driving licence.

That means that in order to be able to use International Driving Permit,
first you have to get it issued while still in home country ,
second, you have to have to validate it as described above in order to obtain legal right to drive a vehicle in Thailand.

1968 Convention on Road Traffic is NOT ratified by Thailand, albeit has been signed, so it is not force here

The Kingdom is the party to 1949 Geneva Convention on Road Traffic., the Article 24(2) of which provides the option to request IDP:

"Article 24
2. A Contracting State may however require that any driver admitted to its territory shall carry an international driving permit conforming to the model contained in Annex 10..."
and the Kingdom ultimately DOES USE the option to request IDP, except where is a BILATERAL treaty between the Kingdom and a foreign country,that allows for use of just driving licence issued by that foreign country, by the mean of Article 42-2 of Motoring Act of 1979:
"Section 42
Anyone who wishes to drive a motor vehicle on public roads must possess an appropriate driver's license. The driver must carry the driver's license and a photocopy of the registration book and show them to competent officers upon request. This does not apply for those who are learning to drive a motor vehicle according to the provision of Section 57.

If the driver is an alien who doesn't have an immigrant visa, he may drive a motor vehicle with a driver's license specified in the Section 42-2. In such a case, he must carry documents specified by the treaty between the Thai government and the government which issued such driver's license, and show them to competent officers upon request.

Section 42-2
In case there's a treaty between the Thai government and a foreign government regarding mutual acceptance of driver's license, an alien who doesn't have an immigrant visa may drive a motor vehicle with a driver's license issued by such a foreign government, or an automobile association authorized by such a foreign government."
To my knowledge only 3 countries have such mutual acceptance treaties with the Kingdom:
1) Malaysia, 2) Singapore, 3) Laos.

2. There is NO engine limit of any kind of motorcycle for Thai driving licence .
It means that you should have a valid driving licence for any motorcycle if any size of engine, even under, as you said, 125cm3.

1949 Convention doesn't recognize as a motor vehicle those under 50 cubicles,so hereyou will geta legal problem with an IDP :)

All that means that most of tourists who drive bikes in the Kingdom are effectively uninsured, even if they hold an insurance policy - which will not cover any loss, as they do not possess legal rights to drive bikes in Thailand .

In European Economic Area ,since January 2013 the driving licences there is a completly new system,that is finally are fully harmonized Europe-wide, and driving licences are requetsed as well for mopeds (= less 50cm3 and speed less than 45kph). Moreover , a country can allow those,who hold B category licnce , to drive within that pareticularcountry A1 class motorcycle(only A1), and this does have international effect and can not be mentioned on the licence.

Yes, there are number of legacy legal arrangements in EEA about driving licences, but I would prefernot to go into details, as this vary somuch among countries.

Khun Minister if Tourism few months ago while on visit to Phuket announced that [for a purpose to safeguard taxi and tuk-tuk income] a curb on renting of cars by tourists will be implemented by enforcing the compliance with a requirement to have a validated IDP or Thai driving licence when signing up for rent-a-car. It is clear that this requirement is hardly ever enforced here.

Posted by Sue on November 11, 2013 23:31



In addition to the said above, the only way to provide under 1949 Convention for a foreigner by his country is by the mean of IDP as per Annnex 10, because alternative mean to prove legal rights to drive a vehicle in home country - a domestic driving licence, issued as per Model of Annex 9, is not exisidting nowadays: that model, probably, is not used any more :74x105 mm, multipage - and, of course, or other graphic and content template rules to be followed to qualify for a driving licence to be issued under this Convention.

Because 1968 Convention is not in force in Thailand, as the Kingdom only signed, but never ratified one(because of some politucal turmoil on those days -..?) , then 1949 Convention is the only option, and IDP under 1949 Convention is the only option under this Convention.

In respect of ASEAN I made mistake: all ASEAN countries have signed and have ratified 1985 ASEAN agreement on mutual recognition of driving licences - so only substantial condition is that a licence to be translated into English, if no text in English is on a licence. Most of ASEAN countries are not 1949 Convention parties.

So for all other countries - those, which are 1949 club members - validated IDP is required , and for the rest, those countries which are not in 1949 club - hm, I am not sure , looks like a legal requirement under cited Motor Vehicle Act 1979 Article 42, Section 2 would be straight to get a Thai driving licence in order to drive.

Posted by Sue on November 12, 2013 02:47


I am quite surprised that some of these messages actually offer support for the Russian. Is everyones dislike for Thai business people so strong that they do not see the Russian is 100% at fault and this business person is being urged by police to make sacrifice simply to keep the peace?

In each of our home countries, under similar circumstances, the renter who left the keys in the ignition would be liable for 100% of the loss and quite likely an additional cost for "lost days" and if any one of us were the shop,owner we would insist on same. This shop,owner is getting a raw deal.

What kind of Russian doesn't know that vehicles get stolen? My god, he is from Russia.

Posted by C&C on November 12, 2013 05:08


- Sue

You made 2 claims to which I responded.

1. Only way to legally operate a vehicle in Thailand is by being on possession of a Thai issued license

2. Only way to operate a motorbike legally is to have a Thai motorbike license.

Both wrong. Nothing you added proves otherwise.

When I initially came to Thailand, about 10y ago, I rented a car on a couple of occasions from international rental agencies. On every occasion I presented my national driving license only, no problems. I was told that depending on the issuing nation, Thailand allows use of a RENTAL vehicle between 30 and 90 days by using a national driving license only.

It has to be in English and clearly state which classes of vehicles it allows you to operate. EU licenses all have this on the backside.

I then went to purchase my first car and needed to get insurance. At this point I was told I could not obtain one unless I have either a Thai OR International Driving license. No verification for the IDP as you describe was needed.

I got my IDP and went back to the insurance company and everything was ok. The company was called Navakij and it's located on Thepkasattri Rd almost opposite Izusu and not far from where Supercheap used to be.

My international license is virtually a carbon copy of my national license, all vehicle classes included. I applied for it while in Thailand and it was mailed to me to my Phuket address. No need to fly back just to get that.

As I explained in another thread, I've had several fender benders here and on almost every occasion I've called in the insurance company and presented them with my IDP. Never a problem.

I later switched to Thanachart insurance so it's not exclusive to Navakij. They are located at Central in the are where all banks have their branches.

Thai motorbike license allows you to operate any size of motorbike, however if your international or national license does not, you are in breach of the law. Hence the relevance of rental bikes and bike engine/HP rating limitations.

I've owned several large motorbikes here and have been pulled over every now and then. Sometimes the officer was not able to locate the correct vehicle class on my IDP to verify I'm actually allowed to operate a large bike so I've had to point it out to you. Confirming that local police actually do pay attention to this, even when a Thai license does not make this distinction.

I also always carry a copy of the relevant Title (Tabien Rod) to verify the vehicle is actually registered to me.

I've never had an accident while using a motorbike so I've never been in a situation where claims issues relating to motorbikes have been settled but I'd find it odd if there was a problem because I've insured these bikes at the same company with the same documentation I had my cars insured.

If my insurance companies say I'm legal and they pay up when damage has occurred, I feel confident to state a Thai license is NOT mandatory to legally operate a vehicle in Thailand and maintain full insurance coverage.

I think it would be beneficial if other drivers who have been involved in accidents and claims settlements would share their experiences.

With all due respect Sue, you are arguing on a theoretical basis and don't seem to have actual real-life experience.

Posted by ThaiMike on November 12, 2013 11:54


- Ryan

I'm neither a US citizen nor a resident, just your typical tourist.

I've clocked over 50k mls all across the US and have received the occasional traffic citation.

Never once has any officer even hinted of an arrest or incarceration until the fine is paid.

I've never had to pay anything on site and for example in Florida when pulled over for speeding on the turnpike, I was issued a USD 100 fine. I asked the officer do I have to pay it. He said I have the option to attend traffic awareness classes in their county (can't remember which) every Monday for 6 weeks in lieu of payment.

I told him that was obviously not an option I'd like to take up on so I asked him what happens if I don't pay. He said nothing will happen. If I was to be pulled over in the same county again, they might come up with the unpaid fine but it's unlikely because I don't have a US Social Security number and their database could not keep track of me.

I then asked if he was me, would he pay and he said no, but he has to issue it to me anyway. End of story.

The most negative experience was in Nevada, I believe the place was called Goldview. Some say the most corrupt county in the US. I was pulled over, for speeding and a very hostile officer demanded I pay USD 300 on the spot.

I said no problem, but make sure I get a receipt. He then questioned if I had the cash on me and I said yes. He went on to say we'd have to drive back to the county office which he did not fancy doing but went on to say if I don't pay up, I will not be let out of the country.

This is of course rubbish because there's no border control exiting the US. I also called a contractual US lawyer to check with him and he said it's all crap and just forget about it.

These all happened in the early 2000s and I have not been to the US since 2004 so perhaps the law has changed but what you say sounds mighty unreasonable and quite implausible to me.

Can you please provide more details on what state you refer to and where to find such regulations.

Posted by ThaiMike on November 12, 2013 12:54



Foreigners rights to drive a vehicle in Thailand can be established on the basis of either options in the law of Thailand:
1) by having a valid Thai driving licence - on the basis of Motor Vehicle Act 1979 Article 42 Section 2 , eligible are only longer-term residents ;
2) by having driving licence issued by another country - on the basis of Motor Vehicle Act 1979 Article 42-2 - and coupled with 9th July 1985 "Agreement on the recognition of domestic driving licences issued by ASEAN countries", that is ratified by all ASEAN countries - Article 3 of the Agreement provides as the pre-condition to use the rights under the Agreement, to have a certified English translation along with a licence; so this covers only ASEAN issued driving licences
3) International Driving Permit, that is issued by the country, that is a party to 1949 Geneva Convention on road traffic - and that is validated by the Land Transport Department of Thailand : legal basis is Article 24 Section 1,2 and Annexes 9 and 10 : so at least for the reason that neither country issues nowadays a domestic driving permit as per the model exhibited in the Annex 9(74x105 mm, few pages etc.), then only option is IDP, that is issued by the foreign country's in accordance with the model as in the Annex 10, that can be used by foreigner in another country , that is a party to 1949 Convention. Thailand has ratified 1949 Convention, so Thailand should accept IDP, but at the same time the Kingdom requires IDPs to be validated with its authorities (as I cited the department's section of Phuket above)- and 1949 Convention doesn't expressly prohibit such validation , so such requirement is legal.
The driving licences that are issued by most of countries are not as per model of Annex 9 of 1949 Convention, but this model is only for the purpose of mutual recognition , the Convention doesn't preclude that countries issue domestic licences as per different model, then IDP are necessary as I described above.
Short-term stay conditions apply.

Thailand requires for driving on public road driving licence for all motorcycles, there is no limit of engine volume, under which driving licence is not legally required.

1968 Convention is not in force in Thailand.
And I am not aware of any other international agreements by the Kingdom that would offer other options besides those above.

The issue is about enforcing these legal requirements.
As all we know these requirements have been hardly ever enforced by Thai authorities.
But they are aware of such situation, and Khun Minister of Tourism message here in Phuket in May is clear evidence of it, and that authority can be more active in enforcing of that.

Therefore for the purpose of claiming compensation from insurance companies in the situation when a vehicle, incl.any motorcycle , was not operated in accordance to the law, especially without having legal rights to operate a vehicle, automatically exclude a possibility of claiming such losses.

A similar situation is with jet-skis: as Whistleblower noticed herd many times, jet-ski "captain" should have a permit issued or recognized by Thai authorities to operate a jet-ski. Having no such permit will lead to a situation that even if losses caused by operating jet-ski are covered by an insurance policy, a claim will be rejected by an insurance company as the jet-ski was operated without legal rights to do it.

Yes, in real life insurance companies some times are not aware of such peculiarities or sometimes even tolerate such legal deficiencies knowledgeably, so if one would like to check a fortune and rely on such missteps by insurance companies, then - Good Luck!

Fortunately , so far I have not have to deal with any vehicle related insurance claim, originated in Thailand.
But Europe I know this very well: when you claim with insurance company various kinds if scratches etc., that resulted from cats waking on a car, snow/ice fallen for municipal truck collecting this stuff on the street, by opening door of negbour vehicle at parking slot etc., by scratching a door by slightly crashing into narrow exit at parking slot , by getting into a hole on the road etc. - even here it took a lot of efforts to defence my claims .
The insurance companies that I dealt with were subsidiaries of major German or Nordic insurance companies.
The very same insurance companies issue travel insurance policies, and I am sure that will not be much more forthcoming with claim under travel insurance policies.

Posted by Sue on November 12, 2013 14:49


Sue and thai mike,,, you both have points,, It comes down to travel insurance,, where i come from in australia,, you can ride a scooter 50cc and under with a car licence,, anything over that you need a bike licence,, in getting a bike licence you are only aloud to ride a bike that is only up to 250cc for one year then you can get a bigger bike after that year,, So most of us aussie's that come to thailand think that they can ride a bike and be covered with there car licence which they can if they ride a bike that is 50cc,, but you won't find that there,,so not covered in a crash,, my friend was with me there in june last year he was only in thailand for 5 hours and was cleaned up on a scooter,, he spent the month in hospital,, his insurance would not cover him,, so it ended up costing his family and one very nice man who donated $50,000 for a plane to come and pick him up and take him home for more hospital work,, all up $80,000,,, some insurance companys over here want you to have a aussie bike licence so they will cover you,, my insurance states that for me to be covered in a motor bike crash, I need to hold a licence in the country that the crash happened,, so now i have a thai licence,, it only lasts one year but every year i go and watch the stupid movie and do the eye and foot test,,,, but now i am covered,,

Posted by sean on November 13, 2013 12:41


Sean - if you go for a test every year you should know that you can get a 5-year licence. Why don't you do that & stop complaining?!

Posted by Anonymous on March 25, 2014 14:36


"if you go for a test every year you should know that you can get a 5-year licence."

A non-immigrant visa is required for that, so not everybody can get a 5 year license.

Posted by stevenl on March 25, 2014 17:53

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