PHETCHABURI – Thai police have arrested one of two robbers who used a steel-cutting torch to break into an ATM machine – and got away with around 2.18 million baht in cash on the early morning of May 20.
Deputy national police chief Chalermkiat Srivorakan said the two men used the torch – fuelled by a gas cyclinder – to cut open a Siam Commercial Bank ATM in Phetchaburi’s Muang district.
A security guard tried to intervene, but was reportedly injured by a knife and forced to stay still until the robbers finished their job.
Police were able to identify one of the robbers as Charnarong Wonghongthong, a native of Ubon Ratchathani province.
An arrest warrant was issued by the Phetchaburi court, and the man was taken into custody on Wednesday in the northeastern province. He was found with the pickup truck used as a getaway vehicle in the robbery.
Mr Charnarong confessed that he had been heavily indebted after the failure of a tapioca plantation, and said he planned the robbery with his accomplice, who is still at large.
Mr Charnarong said he has a relative in Phetchaburi, and the two men staked out the location the day before. It was his first robbery, he said, but he had previously used a steel-cutting torch while working as a mechanic. He added that he learned that cash is stored in the lower part of an ATM machine by watching news and YouTube videos.
Mr Charnarong said he grabbed about 800,000 baht from the machine, and used it to pay off his debt, while his friend took the rest.
He has been charged with robbery at night, committing a crime with an accomplice, using a weapon with intent to cause bodily harm, and using a vehicle to escape the scene of a crime.
The police are searching for his accomplice.