Authorities have recovered 40 of the 159 weapons stolen from the Pak Kret police station after a policeman was arrested and charged with gun theft.
On Friday, Provincial Police Region 1 Deputy Commissioner Pol Maj Gen Phananchai Chuenjaitham said checks had confirmed that 159 weapons in total had been stolen.
The set includes 25 M16 rifles and 134 pistols (68 Sig Sauer, 42 Smith & Wesson, and 24 Glock). However, most have been returned anonymously.
Pol Snr Sgt Maj Chaowalit Phumkhachorn, attached to the Pak Kret police station, was arrested at a hotel in Nong Khai province for stealing firearms. He was reportedly preparing to flee across the border into Laos on Thursday afternoon.
Previously, it was reported that the officer had been accused of stealing around 90 weapons from the Pak Kret station. However, the figure has been revised higher to 159.
Police officers took Pol Snr Sgt Maj Chaowalit to Pak Kret station, where he was detained, waiting for investigators to transfer him to the Criminal Court for Corruption and Misconduct Cases Region 1 in Saraburi and request an extension of his detention for 12 days more on Friday.
Another Region 1 deputy commissioner, Pol Maj Gen Peerapong Wongsawan, said police had recovered 34 of the missing weapons as of Friday morning. Seven were found while police officers were searching houses in Nonthaburi.
Pol Maj Gen Peerapong revealed that a brown travel bag containing 27 weapons had been left anonymously outside the Police Club in Bangkok’s Lak Si district.
A man reportedly notified authorities about the firearms, saying he feared legal action against him for possessing stolen guns.
Later on Friday, investigators recovered more weapons while searching premises in Bangkok and Nonthaburi, bringing the total to 40, Provincial Police Region 1 Commissioner Pol Lt Gen Jeeraphat Phumjit said.
Meanwhile, the Nonthaburi Provincial Court has approved warrants to search nine premises in the province and the capital, he added.
Authorities expect to recover most of the weapons in the coming days.
As a result of the arms theft, Pak Kret Police Chief Pol Col Phongchak Preechakarunpong has been transferred to the Provincial Police Region 1 operation center pending an investigation into arms storage and disbursement in the station.
Weapon inspections should be performed monthly. However, Provincial Police Region 1 Commissioner Pol Lt Gen Jeeraphat Phumjit denied that his region was at fault for failing to detect missing weapons.