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Pattaya Daily News

25 July 2008 :: 18:07:16 pm 43226

Necktie Gang Rip Off 315 Million Baht Diamond in Bangkok

A 71-year-old man brought 2 African diamonds, worth almost Bt500 million, and gave them to a lady agent to find a customer to buy the gems. Then, on July 24, 2008, 2 well-dressed individuals in suits and ties, who claimed to be subordinates of a politician, feigned interest in buying the diamonds and, when the lady agent was unaware, one grabbed the 2,100 karat diamond, worth about Bt315 million and escaped by motorbike.
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On July 24, 2008, at 12 noon, Pol.Lt.Col. Wirote Masong, Donmueng Investigator, was notified of theft. The incident happened at a Job Seeker company called “Zapa International Service Co. Ltd., located at Donmueng, Bangkok. The chief officer was informed and a number of senior police officers and their team went to investigate.

Arriving at the incident, a two-unit, detached, four storey shop house, police met Mrs. Rinlapas Punyajirapat (58), the company owner, from Bangkok and Mr. Jakraphand Pramualsuk (71), from Chantaburi province, who were waiting for the officers.

Mrs. Rinlapas told police that she is a diamond broker. Mr. Jakraphand had apparently asked her to find a customer to buy two diamonds: one of 2,100 and the other 1,750 karats. On July 15t, 2008, a Dubai millionaire asked to have a look at the diamonds. She invited him to her office to inspect them because she was always concerned about safety.

Mrs. Rinlapus said that the Dubai customer had agreed to buy the two diamonds for Bt500 million and wanted to put a 30% deposit down and made an appointment for July 25.

Yesterday, on July 23, two well built men who claimed to be subordinates of a politician also came to see her to buy the same diamonds. One of them was Chinese-looking with a fair complexion and the other man had a darker complexion; both were about 50-years old. She made an appointment with the two men to show them the diamonds after she had seen a bank book which had a balance of about 100 million Baht.

Today, both individuals arrived to see the diamonds as per the arrangement. The darker man had on a black suit and a red tie and the other was wearing a yellow shirt and khaki trousers. At the time, Mr. Jakraphand, the owner of the diamonds was also in the company. Mrs. Rinlapus took the darker man and Mr. Jakraphand to the second floor to look at the diamonds, while the other man waited in a cream-coloured car. The dark man told her that he could not see the diamonds clearly enough, so she took him to look at them downstairs.

Then, although she’d noticed a motorbike appeared to be circling the company several times, she did not pay much attention. Suddenly, while she wasn’t watching, the dark man grabbed the 2,100 karat diamond that he was looking at, worth about Bt315 million, ran out of the office, leapt on the motorbike and sped away. She did not know when or where the other man who had accompanied the dark guy had gone. She then immediately notified the police.

Mr. Jakraphand said that he’d bought the two diamonds 15 years ago from a friend who went on a trip to Africa, for 500,000 Baht each. His daughter told him that the diamonds had been sitting idle for long enopugh, so she suggested he sell them to get some money. He had had the two diamonds checked and certified 5 years ago. He had not thought an incident of this nature would happen to him.

Pol.Col.Jaruen revealed that after the initial investigation, the suspects had left a briefcase at the incident location and it would be inspected. After that, all witnesses and related persons would be investigated, in turn. Additionally, the company CCTV would be checked to see if it had recorded any pictures of the suspects. The police presume the gang must have had inside connections because, normally, Mrs. Rinlapus only sold diamonds through a police officer. The suspects seemed to know the movements of all concerned and also seemed well acquainted with the diamond business.

Pol.Col.Sanhagit said that he wasn’t absolutely satisfied with Mrs. Rinlapus’s statement as she had apparently changed her story from the first time she’d told it.

Pol.Col.Sanhagit said there would be a more thorough re-investigation.

The suspects answer the description of a notorious group of thieves known in the small circle of the Silom diamond business as the “Necktie Gang” because they dress very well. Police will continue their investigation and are hopeful of making an arrest soon.

Reporter : PDN staff   Photo : Internet   Category : Thailand News

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