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What to do when your car is stolen?

Tips on what to do when your car is stolen:

1. What would you do if you saw someone stealing your car? If you are fortunate enough to see it happen, this is what you should do.

(a) Call for help : Scream for help.  Say something like “Thief! Help! Someone is stealing my car!” Normally, the thief will run away.

(b) Call the police to make an arrest : If there are policemen nearby, shout to them or ask them to make an arrest immediately.  If you see the thief but he does not see you, call the police to make an arrest promptly.  If this is not possible because the thief may be gone with your car before the police arrive at the scene, exercise your right to protect your property as explained below.

(c) Exercise your right to protect your property : You are empowered by law to protect your life and property.  According to Section 68 of the Criminal Code “Any person having to commit any act to defend his own right or the rights of others to escape from imminent danger, if such act is reasonably committed under the circumstance, such act is lawful, and such person has not committed any offense”.  This means that you have the right to defend the right to your life, body and property.  For example, if burglars break into your house to rob you or steal something, you have the right to defend your property, provided that your act is reasonably committed.  If this is not the case, such act is not lawful.  For example, if someone punches you, but you shoot him with a gun, such act is not reasonable and unlawful.

On the other hand, if someone hits you and you hit back, such act is reasonably committed in self-defense and is lawful.  This applies to defending your property.  If an unarmed person tampers with your car and you shoot and kill him, this is unreasonable and unlawful.  However, if he is armed and after you have warned him, he tries to shoot you.  Then he is shot dead by you.  Your act is reasonably committed in self-defense and therefore is not against the law.  Thus, upon seeing a person stealing or robbing your car, you have the right to defend your property by using a reasonable means.  Whether or not it is a reasonable act in self-defense is determined on a case by case basis.

(d) As or ordinary citizen, do you have the right to arrest a car thief? : A large number of people do not know that ordinary people like us have the right to arrest wrongdoers.

(1) When confronted with a person committing a flagrant offense and the person committing such offence can be arrested under the law, you as an ordinary citizen can make an arrest.  A flagrant offence is an offence caught in the act, or it is believed beyond any doubt that such an offence has just been committed.  Here are examples of flagrant offences: a person tampering with your car; a person robbing your car.  In such cases, you can make an arrest without having to wait for the police.  If you wait, the wrongdoers may be long gone by the time the police arrive at the crime scene.  Undoubtedly having committed an offence is, for example, when the wrongdoer is seen running away from the police, bleeding, and holding a gun in his hand.  Another example is when a thief is seen jumping down from your car and holding your car key in his hand and people are yelling “Thief! Thief! ” Under such circumstances, you can make an arrest yourself

In the cases cited above, a flagrant offence has to be a serious offence and not just a misdemeanor.  For crimes with high punishment such as theft, bag snatching, or robbery, the law stipulates that you can arrest the wrongdoer if you see him committing a flagrant offence.

(2) A Competent Officer having an arrest warrant may ask nearby people to help arresting the wrongdoer.  This means that the offender has stolen a car and an arrest warrant has been issued.  If the competent officer asks you who are standing nearby to help him making an arrest, you have the right to join him to make an arrest because then you have the status of an assistant to the competent officer.

At any rate, force may be used while an arrest is being made.  For example, the wrongdoer may resist an arrest and tries to escape, or wrestles with you or hits you.  You have the right to defend yourself by an appropriate means and make an arrest.  If the wrongdoer hits you, you have the right to hit back and make an arrest without breaking the law.

2. Asking people standing nearby for some clues about wrongdoer

If you car is parked in a not secluded area, people who are standing nearby tend to see what is happening.  First of all, do not panic, or else you may faint before reporting to the police.  Ask around to find out about the appearance of the wrongdoer, the direction he is heading, the time when he left.  Once you have acquired the information, write down the name(s) and address(es) of the eye-witness(es).  He will be your key witness when the case goes to the police and eventually to the court.  Whether you have acquired the information or not, you must proceed to the next step as explained below:

3. Verbally report to the police as soon as possible

The sooner you report a car theft case to the police, the better the chance to get your car back.  This gives the police an opportunity to quickly catch the thief. Run to the police or police station nearest to the crime scene.  This may be faster than making a call.  Once they have accepted your report, they can contact the Car Theft Suppression Center more quickly than you can.

4. Calling the police

The Car Theft Prevention and Suppression Center has already been established in the Royal Thai Police.  Calling a police station may take more time as you do not have their telephone number readily available and before any action is taken the thief may be long gone.  For speedy action, we recommend that you call one of these numbers directly.

(1) For Bangkok, call the “Phanfa Center 191".  Remember this or write it down in case you forget.  You can also call 02-246-1312-8 (in case your call 191 and could not get through).

(2) If your car is stolen in the area under the Northern Sector of the Metropolitan Police Bureau, call “Rama Center” at 02-245-0713

(3) If your car is stolen in the area under the Southern Sector of Metropolitan Police Bureau, call “Narai Center” at 02-234-5678

(4) If your car is stolen in the area under the Metropolitan Police Bureau, Thonburi Area call the center of the Metropolitan Police Bureau, Thonburi Area at 02-413-1653-6

(5) Car and Motorcycle Theft Prevention and Suppression Center, Metropolitan Police Bureau at 02-245-6951, 02-245-9059

For car thefts in other provinces, call nearby police stations and other police sub-divisions.  If may be a good idea to also coordinate with Car Theft Prevention and Suppression Centers in Bangkok and Thonburi.  They can then co-ordinate with local police force in a timely manner.

5. Provide car details correctly and quickly

As mentioned earlier, you must always have you car details with you so that they are readily available in case of emergency.  For example, write down in your personal notebook information such as “White Toyota Corona RT, License Plate No. Jor. 777 Bangkok, Engine Number 6D-326782, Body Number 3 M-4215 723-64, with a dent on the right side of he bumper and a 2-centimeter scratch on the left side of the bonnet.  Cloth lining just above the driver’s seat was torn and there are two ink spots on the tax payment sticker.  You should always have this information handy to be used promptly when there is an emergency. 

This way, you don’t have to spend a lot of time trying to remember such details until the thief has escaped with your car.  You can promptly provide such details to the police, who in turn, can gather all the information and contact their police network to quickly catch the thief. This is the best way to assist the police with their work, as the police can still identify the car even if the license plate number, damage marks and the engine number have been changed by the thief.

6. Filing a complaint

A complaint must be filed at a police station having jurisdiction over the place where the car is stolen. The following documents must be presented.

(1) Your national I.D. card 

(2) A copy of your house registration document

(3) Your government official I.D. card if you are government official

(4) A passport, in the case of a foreigner traveling to Thailand

(5) If a person other than the car owner is reporting the theft to the police, a letter from the owner authorizing this person to act on his/her behalf must be presented. 

(6) A person representing a minor must provide proof of being his/her legitimate representative or proof of being his/her custodian by the court order.

(7) The car manual, documents relating to the stolen car and the car registration book

(8) Hire-purchase document (if the car is still being paid by installment)

(9) Provide photos (color photos preferred) of the car to the police if you have them.  Photos provide much more details than words.

Provide the most details to the police, including the name(s) and address(es) of the witness(es) if you have them.

7. Getting a copy of your complaint from the police

A person filing a complaint with the police has the right to request for a copy of such complaint.  Keep it with you as evidence and present it to the police having jurisdiction over the area where the stolen car is seized or found.