A struggling British tourist who was allegedly caught stealing food from a supermarket had a welcome surprise – when the police paid the bill and gave him the change.
The bitter-sweet situation unfolded when the unnamed man was said to have stuffed around 500 baht (12.75gbp) worth of snacks into his top at the Esplanade shopping mall in the Ratchada area, on Wednesday lunch time (May 13).
A security guard grappled with him and with the help of a passing motorcycle rider, they helped to detain the man while they waited for the local police to arrive.
However, what happened next stunned everyone in the shop who were gathering around expecting the foreigner to receive a severe punishment.
An on-duty officer from the nearby station arrived to assess the situation but rather than take away the Brit in a police pickup truck, he produced 1,000 baht (25.50gbp) to pay the bill.
Then, he gave the shabbily dressed tourist the change.
”The policeman realised straight away that the foreigner wasn’t stealing for money,” said an onlooker who witnessed the mele.
”Usually thieves take alcohol or expensive things, so when the policemanchecked the goods he saw that the man only had food and he was trying to steal them because he was hungry.”
The witness described how the officer checked the foreigner’s passport visa, which allegedly showed he had been over-staying for more than a month. He claimed he was stuck in Thailand because of the fall-out from the coronavirus, which has seen flights cancelled.
Realising that the paperwork involved with taking him to the station, booking him in for theft and dealing with the visa offences would be more work than it’s worth, he decided to solve the situation his own way.
The policeman put the items in a trolley and paid the supermarket for them, whose staff would have been forced to foot the bill for missing or damaged items at the end of the shift.
After handing the food to the man, he helped him out by giving him the rest of the change from the 1,000 baht note.
Onlookers who watched in disbelief described how the policeman calmly advised the tourist to visit his Embassy for help to fix his situation.
They said: ”I was truly shocked, I just couldn’t believe what I was seeing. In the end, everybody in the shop felt sorry for the man.
”He thought he was going to be in serious trouble when he was caught stealingand kept saying ’embassy, embassy, get me my embassy’.
”But the policeman was so kind and understanding. He knew that the man had no money and needed the food. He took him out to the side of the building andlet him go.
”The policeman explained to us that there are already procedures for handling tourists who have no money or can’t get home, so it would be better for the person to go there.
”So many people are struggling at the moment because of the pandemic, so it was so nice to see the police using common sense and helping people who need it.”