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Catching repeat criminals using big data


Sophisticated database devised by CIB chief plays major role in helping police solve sex crimes

Compiling information on criminal cases into one database would make it a lot easier for police to track suspects.

A case in point is the attempted rape investigated by the Anti-Trafficking in Persons Division (ATPD). The division managed to wrap up the case with the help of the Geographic Information System (GIS).

Thanks to the sophisticated criminal database, the ATPD found it much easier to track the suspect.

On Sept 26, Phloenta Duanraeram, a 24-year-old waitress at a restaurant in Muang district, Ratchaburi, left work for the day and rode her motorcycle home.

About 12.30 am, as she was making a U-turn under the Khok Mo Bridge on Phetchaburi Road, a motorcycle driven by a tall man in his 30s rear-ended her. He forced her to stop, snatching her motorcycle key and purse. Startled, Ms Phloenta ran away and hid by the roadside. She saw the man drive away on his motorcycle.

Thinking she was out of danger, the woman returned to her motorcycle, only to find it was a trap. The man came back, grabbed her and tried to strip her clothes.

She fought back and escaped. She ran off and reported the incident to police.

Four days passed with no progress in the police’s investigation. Pol Maj Gen Konchai Khlaikhlueng, chief of the ATPD, who is also responsible for overseeing cases involving sexual crimes, stepped in to direct the investigation himself.

He instructed Pol Col Shinaphat Phramphan, chief of the ATPD’s Sub-Division 5, to use the GIS to aid the investigation.

The GIS consists primarily of three databases: one pertaining to people reported missing; one containing arrest warrants issued for suspects in sexual crime cases; and one related to the details of convicts who have served time in sexual crime cases, said Pol Maj Gen Konchai.

The GIS is the brainchild of Central Investigation Bureau chief Thitiraj Nhongharnpitak, who ordered the creation of the criminal databases last year. In many cases, suspects whom the police are seeking are repeat offenders who have committed similar crimes.

“It’s area-based data management software that relates the databases to areas and times, and displays the output in the forms of maps, graphs, density and other types of presentations showing the relationship between these elements,” he said.

Pol Maj Gen Konchai said police normally cross-reference current and previous crime spots with a suspect’s history to see if there is a pattern. “We believe this to be useful for helping track suspects [in a repeat criminal case],” he said.

Police look through the databases to search for information on missing persons, issue arrest warrants, and the history of newly-released convicts, he said.

In the Phloenta case, investigators went through files in the GIS database and zeroed in on inmates involved in sexual crime cases who had been released from jail and lived in Ratchaburi.

The search turned up eight matches. Police keyed in the possible age and height of the suspect and narrowed the number of possible suspects to four. Investigators then gave the photos of the four suspects to Ms Phloenta who immediately identified one as Sunan Tothaen.

Police subsequently launched a manhunt and later tracked down Mr Sunan at Wat Ban Rai temple in Ratchaburi’s Damnoen Saduak district, said Pol Maj Gen Konchai.

Mr Susan’s record showed he had commited eight criminal offences between 1993 and 2012. The charges he had previously faced included molestation, attempted rape, theft, robbery and possession drugs.

In the past several years, he had caught repeatedly and sent multiple times, said Pol Maj Gen Konchai.

In the Phloenta case, the suspect confessed to being the attacker. He has been charged with robbery, molestation and physical assaults.

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