Chiang Mai Thailand - foreign residents summoned to police station

A sudden crackdown on farang residents has seen unannounced police visits to addresses previously provided by foreign residents to Thai immigration. The officers handed over forms for completion, with a list of questions asking for detailed personal information to be provided.


The forms, in Thai only, require that the farang give a full physical description, including:

Skin colour, width of forehead, nose size, body shape/size, voice pitch, height, as well as any distinguishing marks...

I know we farangs all look alike, but even so!...

Should that not be sufficient to identify the Thailand-resident farang, were he to suffer sudden memory loss, death, or some other quite serious condition, the police also require full details of your occupation, hobbies (hobbies?!!...), a copy of your passport, photos, and your telephone number. In some areas of Thailand, foreigners are being fingerprinted.

The police are also asking local Thai residents if they know of any other farangs living in the area, who may not be registered with immigration, or who have since moved and not provided their new address to the authorities.

So... why the sudden crackdown? The main reason allegedly is an increase of illegal Burmese workers into the area, combined with potential problems linked to the economic downturn, and which the police suggest may force poorer Thais into crime as well. The figures seem to reflect an increase across a whole range of criminal activities in recent months in the Chiang Mai area; muggings, house and car theft, bag snatching, even murder.

Obviously farangs are considered prime targets for this crime surge, and with the tourist industry having suffered enough from the political upheavals of the past, the police are hoping that these measures will help to offset any further damage to Thailand's reputation.

Somehow I don't feel reassured. Being asked for the detailed physical description above, in the light of the worrying crime trends, feels a bit like being measured for your own coffin...

add a comment

Stumble Upon Toolbar Add to Technorati Favorites

19 comments:

Mike said...

Pete i picked up on this on TV (with all the usual cronies chipping in).

If I understand Thai law correctly we should in fact register with the local PS station besides Immigration.

Its just not enforced where I live.

That said I wonder if there is a "new broom" in command at CM?

Surely a photograph would suffice since the police have the facilities to take this and finger prints.

According to MTF local crime is on the increase, but I haven't heard anything (or if I did I didn't understand). Although I did read a post about crime on Absolutely Bangkok.

http://absolutelybangkok.com/robbers-delight/#more-4949

The FrogBlogger said...

Mike, you're right we should register on arrival, and not just with immigration. It does seem a bit over the top with all the details they are asking for... and you do wonder if there isn't an extra sinister element in there somewhere. After all, what possible point can there be to knowing what your hobbies are? A bit proportion of farangs I've seen in Chiang Mai would hardly be likely to own up to their favourite pastimes! (Can just imagine the list of answers from a wag: "Spotlight Bar, threesomes, Foxy Lady, Noot the katoey, kerb crawling Loi Kroh, leering at the Go-Go dancers, groping")...

Yes, saw Dan's problems in that post on Absolutely Bangkok. Maybe he's a victim of the first wave. So many burglaries in the space of a few weeks, sounds ominous...

Catherine said...

Curious, as it is not happening out here in BKK (not that I know anyway).

I'm also worried about the downturn. Petty thievery will rise, as well breakins and more.

And while I realise you are not fond of collecting stuff, I am. I like my stuff. And if anyone stole my stuff away, well... I couldn't imagine what I'd feel. Violated?

BTW - I LOVE your photo. I don't do crowd shots particularly well at all. Some of mine are ok, but most are not. To be nosy, could I ask for your settings.

The FrogBlogger said...

Catherine, I'm not completely unconcerned, last time I was in Thailand for 8 months with uninsured camera equipment throughout - stupid thing to do. Can't remember the settings, just recall using the zoom at full stretch. I can usually get away without people noticing what I'm doing that way!

Talen said...

Doesn't make any sense to me. It sounds like just another way to harass the falang living in the rural areas.

The information asked for is completely nonsensical and you would figure that immigration would share information with the local police.

Catherine said...

I hear your concern over camera equipment. I was ok walking around with mine when the lens was small. But when I upgraded to a large lens, I felt conspicuous.

I'm used to it now... and now I'd like a large lens!

Mine is ok, but I can't get the long distance shots I want.

Problem is, for long distance don't you have to focus veeeeeeeeeeery carefully?

I was just talking to a girl this morning who had a megga lens. She says it takes forever for her lens to focus (Nikon body, Nikon lens).

The FrogBlogger said...

Catherine, the Nikkor zoom I have is 70-210mm with a Nikon x2 converter. It wasn't cheap, but I opted for a lens with VR - automatic vibration reduction. It means you can actually do hand-held shots at full zoom if you're reasonably steady. Plus I often focus manually, unless it's a moving target.

But I'm by no means an expert, and most of my skill is down to a very large memory card... take 100 shots, and a couple are bound to be ok more by luck than by judgement ;-)

Lloyd said...

Well after having been scammed and robbed of nearly 300,000 baht in 3 weeks I would say crime, and especially scams, in Thailand is on the increase. When I spoke with the British Embassy they said that they are seeing larger sums of money involved in various scams, with one family losing nearly 2 million baht, for a 2 year old Toyota Vios, after a rental car was stolen.

The FrogBlogger said...

Hope you're going to blog about this Lloyd - was it during that SE Asia trip you've been planning?

I'm curious about the stolen rental car scam - was there no valid insurance?

Frances said...

Width of forehead?! Is that a normal thing to ask for in Thailand?

Lloyd said...

Right now I'm not sure how I feel about whats worth putting into words, part stupidity and part pure corruption by Thai police has left me more than a little jaded which I dont believe is best to portray.

SE Asia holiday abandoned, we're on our way back to the UK for a months sail around the south of England and Wales, might not be as exotic but far less stress!

The Toyota was hired from a car rental firm in Hua Hin and stolen using a key, which is the same MO used to steal the motorbike I had rented from Ao Nang, the so called "insurance" on the car was non existent and the police sided with the Thai's in effect holding the people to ransom. I had heard of more than the odd occurence of the same scam but now it seems to be more than an isolated practice.

The FrogBlogger said...

Yes Francis I'd never heard of that one before either. As they say hear, amazing Thailand. And tone of voice is odd and well. Just so long as they don't get too personal in the measurements they require!

Hope the back is recovering well...

The FrogBlogger said...

Lloyd, that's sounds grim. Hope you change your mind about a blog - at the very least it will help people to avoid falling into the same trap. I've often wondered about some of the side soi car rentals, but preferred to stick with the more bona fide companies. Not sure what I'd have done in the circumstances, on learning that the car I'd hired was uninsured, especially if I'd ticked the right boxes. Think I would have made a stand, but that's easy to say when it's not happening to you.

300,000 baht that's not peanuts, and you certainly don't sound or read like anyone's mug :-/

Hope it doesn't disillusion you too much, especially after your generosity in other areas.

Catherine said...

Lloyd,

Darn! I was hoping to follow your adventures out here. So sorry to hear about your awful experience, and ditto what Pete said. Thailand does have its extremes.

Pete,

'take 100 shots, and a couple are bound to be ok more by luck than by judgement'

You went to the same photographcy class as I did :-D

I'm told that in photography it even has a name: 'the decisive moment'.

Which is why I believe in bracketing, to get better chances at 'catching' that decisive moment.

Catherine said...

BTW - BK Mag just put out a request on FB.

'Our story are we Safe is coming up and we want to talk to you our readers about your experiences. Have you ever been a victim of serious crime in Bangkok and would you be prepared to talk about it? Have you ever commited a crime, if so when and why? Complete anonymity we promise ...'

Martyn said...

Pete I'd like to pick up on the camera/photography theme and say what great fun my cheap Vivitar 8010 has given me not in Thailand but here in the UK. I bought the cheap blurry bastard from Argos in Swindon and everytime I pass their shop I like pressing my nose flat against the front window and mouthing obscenities at the Argos staff. I never realized a camera could be such fun. Just carrying on the theme that's all.

The FrogBlogger said...

Catherine, well spotted, perhaps Dan could stick up a note on his wall, inviting his regular guest to tell his story...

Martyn, hope you sort that problem out soon, would love to see more photography from your part of Isaan..

john said...

i posted some useful tips for personnel security here is a snippet the rest is from my link
from above name
the police have yet to catch the person falangs are i guess presumed to be big money targets in Thailand i would surget that wherever you stay you put some security measures in place and if your home is burgled you do not attempt to confront them yourself here are a few suggestions of my own feel free to comment and add your own

The FrogBlogger said...

Hi John, thanks for the comment. Phew some heavy duty recommendations over on your blog, but hey, better safe than sorry! And quite right, wherever you are in the world if you can avoid confrontation that's the sensible course. Aside from the fact that if you use excessive force it's you that could end up in prison.