Patong taxi drivers feared a metered taxi driver from Phuket International Airport had been about to pick up a passenger in Patong after dropping off a passenger there.
At this busy time of year, traffic moves very slowly around Patong's one-way system and a metered taxi from Phuket airport is bound to be carefully watched.
The alarm went up when traffic slowed to a stop - and perhaps a tourist or two made inquiries.
Metered taxis are rare in Patong, where tuk-tuks and taxis - illegal and legal - still control public transport.
The thought of a metered taxi actually picking up a fare in Patong led to scores of taxis descending on the local police station in a mass protest.
Police sources said there was no intention on the part of the metered taxi driver, in strange territory, to pick up a fare.
Phuket's taxis charge excessive amounts that bring many complaints from tourists because the drivers are forced to return to their departure point empty.
Years of rivalry between local village groups has led to Phuket having one of the most antiquated and expensive taxi systems in the world.
Passengers are forced to pay for both the journey they make and the journey they don't make as the driver returns to his Phuket base empty.
It has been suggested that all Phuket taxis adopt a call centre system so that fares can be reduced and a smaller number of dedicated, efficient taxi drivers could do the work.
As it is, many young men on Phuket aspire to become taxi drivers instead of furthering their education at university because taxi drivers often earn more than degree graduates.
In a comment below, regular Phuketwan reader Simon Luttrell writes:
THE METERED taxi in question was driven by the brother of my ex-wife. I have known him personally for years.
He is an experienced taxi driver and knows 'the rules' about picking up fares outside his home ground of the airport.
He collected some passengers from the airport and dropped them off at a Patong hotel. As he was about to return to the airport, some other tourists at that hotel leant through his car window to (presumably) ask about a taxi need.
Immediately as this happened, 4 local taxi drivers who were parked opposite the hotel ran over and physically attacked my brother-in-law. No-one came to his aid and he knows that there is absolutely zero point in making a complaint to the Patong police.
Today he is resting at home and recovering from his beating, and is now fearful of driving passengers from the airport to Patong destinations.
What can I say? I've lived in Phuket with my Thai family since 2002 and I'm the owner of 2 small airport hotels in Phuket. Like them, I am sick and tired of the problems on that island which have only increased over the years, and made running an honest business more and more difficult.
My current and working location since earlier this year should give a strong clue as to my future plans.