Some areas of Thailand do have problems with back snatchers and, unfortunately, bag snatching seems to be on the increase in Phuket, one of Thailand’s most visited tourist spots. Last Wednesday, three western tourist were attacked by members of a motorcycle gang and all three were stabbed by a knife in the process. A 60-year old Australian woman died as a result of the stabbing.
Phuket police have already announced a 300,000 baht reward ($10,000) for any information leading to the arrest of the killers. Sixty-year old, Michelle Smith, a travel agent from Australia had been in Thailand less than 24 hours when she was stabbed in the heart and killed by two men on a motorbike who tried to grab her bag. Ms Smith held on and died as a result. Ms. Smith was out with a friend, another Australian woman, and she too was stabbed but had only minor wounds.
Phuket police have now confessed there was a third similar stabbing earlier in the day, that of British tourist Mohamad Zubair Edwa, 37 in the same area. Mr. Edwa also survived the attack.
Bag snatching from motorbikes does happen occasionally in Thailand, unfortunately, although it’s nowhere near a common incident. A Scottish woman was killed in a similar incident in Bangkok in 2009 when she was dragged by the man on the motorbike and hit her head on the sidewalk. She died instantly. Her husband was with her at the time, but could do nothing to stop the attack.
I’ve also had two Thai women friends who have had their bags taken by men on motorbikes, one while walking with her quite large western boyfriend.
For safety tips regarding bag snatching in Thailand, always walk on the sidewalk as far away from the road as possible and with your bag on the inside and not on the outside where it can easily be grabbed by a passing motorcyclist. Do be aware, bikes also ride on the sidewalk all over Thailand, so walk on the far inside of any sidewalk you are on and always pay attention to what’s going on around you.
If someone attempts to grab your bag, let them. It’s only material stuff and a bit of money. And, of course, never take your passport or large amounts of money out with you. Leave them in the hotel safe.