He’s been seen at BTS Phrom Phong, Asok and Chit Lom. Other times he’s walking up and down sois off mid-Sukhumvit Road. For nearly six months, he’s been spotted throughout downtown begging for money from passers-by in areas frequented by tourists.
In photo after photo, his appearance looks unchanged – blue backpack, thinning long hair, khaki cargo shorts.
What observers notice most is what appears to be different young children carried by the middle-aged, European-looking man. And what they find alarming is that those children always appear sleepy or unresponsive – in deep slumber or, they worry and speculate, drugged.
A child protection hotline said it’s fielded numerous reports from concerned witnesses and taken what action it can. The representative of Childline Thailand Foundation, who did not identify herself, said the NGO has notified police departments in areas where the man has been seen.
Childline Director Ilya Smirnoff said the organization has contacted the police every time it has received a complaint.
“Each time this man has evaded the Thai police,” he said in a message. “We had also officially reported him to the BTS management. They have promised to look out for him and report him to the police immediately – so far no luck.”
He said that attempts to get the police to respond haven’t met much success.
“Because this man moves from jurisdiction of one police station to the other, our complaints on cross-border jurisdiction had been dismissed by the respective police stations,” he added. “We have currently lodged a complaint with the commander of the metropolitan Police of Bangkok. We hope he will take this seriously.”
Police officers at both the Thonglor and Lumphini police departments, which have jurisdiction over many of the locations where the unidentified man has been spotted, said Friday they have not received any such reports.
At least four online eyewitness reports seen by Coconuts Bangkok that stretch back to early December – some say they saw him as far back as September – share similar details. They say the man tells people that he’s either lost his wallet or had it stolen and needs money for a hotel room.
While some express concern that he himself may be in need, people say the man appears furtive and refuses to answer questions about the child, and walks away if pressed for details.
The sightings have circulated online, primarily in the The Expat Mummy Club, Bangkok group on Facebook.
Several women in the private group sent images of the posts, saying they were frustrated that nothing has been done despite strong interest in discussing the topic.
Childline Thailand Foundation advises anyone seeing the man not to call its hotline but to immediately contact the local police department. For Thonglor police, that’s 02-390-2240. Lumphini is 02-255-5993, and Pathumwan is 02-215-2991.
Members of the public can also try police hotline 1599. The tourist police hotline is 1155.
Additional reporting Chayanit Itthipongmaetee