Gang arrested for stealing sacred stone from Sam Roi Yot National park


Officials have announced the arrest of a gang who had been illegally cutting and stealing stone from Sam Roi Yot National Park.

The illegal activity took place near the Tham Kaew Cave, an area of cultural and ecological significance within the national park, officials said

The crackdown on the gang came after officials received a report that newly opened stone surfaces had been discovered, indicating stone-cutting activities in the mountains near Tham Kaew Cave.

At 4am on Sunday morning (June 11), park officers hiked for three hours to begin a surveillance operation close to the cave.

The officers said they observed a group of approximately ten individuals emerging from the area early in the morning.

The officers swooped on the location and while two individuals managed to escape, the remaining seven were apprehended.

Upon inspection of the bags carried by the suspects, it was revealed that they contained red and brown “sacred stones” with a phosphorus texture. These stones, weighing between 20 and 30 kilograms each, exhibited rectangular and triangular cut marks.

The arrested individuals confessed that their intention was to carve Buddha statues and decorative objects, exploiting the sacred qualities attributed to these stones.

The seized stones, deemed invaluable relics, were later transported under the supervision of the head of Khao Sam Roi Yot National Park to the park headquarters for inspection and measurement.

During interrogations, all of the suspects admitted to the illegal activity, disclosing that the stones were destined for sale. The demand for these sacred stones, considered superior to those found in Ratchaburi and Kanchanaburi, was cited as the motivation behind their actions.

Prices ranged from 20,000 to 50,000 baht per stone, depending on their color and texture.

However, none of the suspects claimed responsibility for the actual cutting of the stones.

The arrested individuals included six residents of Tambon Rai Mai, Amphoe Sam Roi Yot, and one resident of Amphoe Kui Buri.

Photographic evidence was obtained to aid in the search for the two individuals who managed to flee the scene.

The confiscated items were handed over to the investigating officers at Sam Roi Yot Police Station to initiate legal proceedings against the gang.

If convicted, the accused face penalties of imprisonment not exceeding five years, fines not exceeding 500,000 baht, or both, as stipulated by the law.