Pantip Plaza

Pirates Unfazed by Police Crackdown

Bangkok Post, February 10, 2002

Authorities focus on Pantip Plaza
Anucha Charoenpo and Apiradee Treerutkuarkul

Illegal business operators in Pantip Plaza have had to temporarily close down their shops for the past three days after police cracked down on pirated VCDs and computer software.

But pirates indicated yesterday they would beat the police arrest campaign through a cat-and-mouse game to return to normal business.

Sellers of pirated CDs said raids by plainclothes police officers since Thursday could only force them to temporarily stop selling pirated games and computer software. They would soon reopen the profitable business.

"We can sell up to 60,000-70,000 baht worth of goods during weekends. But I had to close my shop because police stormed into the plaza right after most shops opened," one trader said.

He said he usually made profits of almost 80 % selling pirated CDs. But his profits would halve if he sold legal CDs.

"Legal CDs cannot help our business survive. They only make big profits for major CD producers," he said.

Another employee at an illegal CD shop on the second floor said her boss telephoned her to close the shop yesterday after he found out police would raid the shopping mall.

"Employees at most CD shops normally get notice from their bosses and some police before plainclothes policemen arrive for an inspection. That's why they usually leave Pantip Plaza empty-handed," she said.

Sukanya Chanapornchai, 24, a shopper at the mall, said she usually went to Pantip to look for low-price computer software.

But she said she did not get any yesterday because of the police raid.

Nattaphol Tangsuksant, 18, said he chose to buy pirated CDs at between 100-150 baht because it was much cheaper than legal ones of the same quality.

"As long as the price of CDs and software remains almost ten times more expensive, people will always come to Pantip and buy pirated CDs."

Pol Maj-Gen Ekkarat Meepreecha, Economic Crime Investigation Division commander, described the three-day raid as a routine check against illegal products.

He denied that any of his officers had tipped off the sellers to avoid arrests.

"It is usual for the pirates to conceal their illegal businesses and to run away from the police," he said.

He said the campaign was also carried out at other IT malls, such as Tawanna Plaza in Bangkapi, the Klong Thom area, Fortune Plaza on Ratchadapisek road and the Pratunam area.

The arrest campaign would be carried out daily, he said.

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