Although an accomplice escaped, officers said today they believe that Phitawat Acharathitiweerakul, 53, is a central character in a gang that steals credit cards from Thai and foreign tourists on scheduled buses, buys and sells goods then splits the profits.
Phitawat was caught after police in Kok Loi, north of Phuket, shot out a tyre on a hire car.
A man in a second car escaped.
Police presented their prisoner on phuket today and said that for eight years, he had been involved in a gang that stole credit cards and other valuables from the bags of tourists on scheduled buses from Bangkok to points in the south, including Phuket.
Investigators from Chalong trailed him to Tesco Lotus in Chalong then had him tracked by other police as he fled north, off the island.
Affter his capture, police seized cigarettes valued at 180,000 baht, three Samsung smartphones valued at 47,0000 baht, a camera valued at 30,000 baht, and a Gucci watch of similar worth.
Officers said that the scheme involved thieves who stole the cards and valuables, runners who took the cards to another province, buyers who purchased large quantities of easily sold goods with the stolen cards, and sellers who obtained the b est possible prices for the goods.
Profits were split among the entire gang. Items worth at least a million baht bought with stolen credit cards were found.
Phitawat came to the notice of police on phuket because of the unusual quantities of his purchases. Police said he was out on bail on a similar charge and had confessed to being part of the network of thieves for eight years. More arrests are anticipated.