BANGKOK — A Polish national accused of blowing up an ATM with a kitchen gas cannister was betrayed by his love for 7-Eleven bread snacks, police said Wednesday.
Investigators revealed they followed a trail of custard bun wrappers to Gracjan Pawel Staniszewski, who allegedly blew up a cash machine at an east Bangkok supermarket and made off with 300,000 baht two weeks ago.
They found their first wrapper after CCTV footage at the scene of the crime led them to the end of Soi Krungthep Krita 15/1. There they found two pieces of black tape near a khlong. Suspecting the tape might have been used in the makeshift bomb, police dispatched divers into its waters, where they found a large, heavy backpack containing several items including clothes, a spooky ghost mask and rubber balloon connected to a hose – and more black tape.
They also found a piece of trash – an empty package from a pandan custard-filled bun.
Near the canal, they found a shovel and two more identical snack wrappers.
Seizing upon the carb-rich, sugary snack, police noticed the recent production date was stamped Sept. 9. The Aplus brand bun is sold mostly at 7-Eleven stores, so police canvassed stores to see if anyone could remember selling three such buns to someone between Sept. 9 and Sept. 13.
They hit paydirt at a 7-Eleven outside a Prawet district school. A heavyset farang had purchased the pandan goodies, and there was security camera footage to support it. Detectives noticed the man’s pants appeared the same size as those found in the backpack from the khlong.
From there they were able to track the motorcycle the customer rode off on to Soi Ramkhamhaeng 50, where residents pointed out an apartment occupied by 36-year-old Staniszewski and his Cambodian wife.
“It doesn’t matter if he denies or confesses to the crime, because we have gathered sufficient evidence and witnesses,” national police chief Chakthip Chaijinda said. “We are cooperating with the Polish authorities to look into his background.”
Chakthip also expressed his wonderment at the explosive device improvised by Staniszewski out of a gas cannister, length of hose and balloon.
“I’ve never seen anything like this bomb,” National police chief Chakthip Chaijinda said Wednesday. “Hydrogen gas was collected in the balloon until the gas tank exploded. I guess you could call it a ‘balloon bomb.’”
The ATM reportedly contained 481,700 baht, meaning that about 180,000 baht was destroyed in the blast.
Chakthip added that Staniszewski had traveled to Cambodia after the alleged heist to pick up his Cambodian wife Sukmee Ruen before traveling to Malaysia together. Ruen stayed in Malaysia, he said, while Staniszewski returned to Thailand with equipment for making more bombs. Police said they would track down Ruen for questioning.
The police chief ruled out the bombs being part of any larger plot.
“He had enough equipment for two to three more bombs,” Chakthip said.
Staniszewski was said to be not cooperating, refusing to speak in English and demanding to speak to Polish embassy representatives. An embassy representative arrived at Prawet Police Station at 2pm on Wednesday and talked to him for an hour.
The representative refused to interpret for Staniszewski, and police are currently looking for a Polish interpreter.
Staniszewski is being held at the Minburi Provincial Court.