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US$1.7 million in jewels stolen in Bangkok heist

US$1.7 million in jewels stolen in Bangkok heist

Three men posing as customers stole US $1.7 million worth of jewels from a Bangkok gems fair over the weekend in what police today called the biggest heist in recent memory in Thailand.

The men entered a booth at the Bangkok Gems & Jewelry Fair on Saturday and asked the vendor to open a display case containing nearly 100 items with a reported value of 56 million baht (US $1.7 million), then distracted her and ran off with it, said police Lt. Col. Pairote Rattanamanee, in charge of the investigation.

It was not immediately clear how the men, believed to be unarmed and of Middle Eastern descent, managed to slip past security at the fair's convention hall, located near the Thai capital, he said.

The booth's vendors described the trio as clean-shaven, handsome, roughly in their 40s and wearing white dress shirts and dark trousers at the time of the theft, Pairote said. Video footage indicated they had two male accomplices.

Apiwat Tiyasuksawat, the vendor who filed the complaint, told Thai media the case contained 60 rings, 28 bracelets, four necklaces and five amulets.

The most expensive items were a ruby and mixed gem ring worth 2 million baht and a variety of ruby and emerald earrings, said Sittaya Tiyasuksawat, the vendor's sister.

"From what I can tell, this could be the biggest gem theft ever reported to Thai police," said police investigator Lt. Ekkaman Lueruang.


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