Chiang Mai Man Confesses To Murdering Grab Driver for Gold Heist

CCTV footage captured the suspect visiting the gold shop to scout the location before committing the crime.

CHIANG MAI — Gold shop robberies continue to occur in Thailand. Despite police consistently arresting criminals, some still risk committing these crimes. The latest case in Chiang Mai Province was more violent and brutal than typical gold shop robberies, as the perpetrator intentionally murdered someone.

Niphitphon, age 26, residing in Chiang Mai’s Doi Saket district, confessed to the police that he had planned the gold heist for over 1 year and 2 months. He hoped to give the money to his parents, who had previously lost money to gold trading scam and were heavily in debt. However, his plan unraveled in just one day.

On July 9, Pol. Maj. Gen. Weerachon Boonthawee, Deputy Commander of Provincial Police Region 5, stated that the quick arrest was fortunate as the suspect had plans to flee abroad. Evidence from the suspect’s phone showed he had surveyed the forest route multiple times and calculated travel times between various points.

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The suspect is brought into the interrogation room at Mae Ping Police Station, Chiang Mai province, on July 9, 2024.

“The suspect had detailed plans A, B, and C, but things didn’t go as expected because he failed to conceal the vehicle, only disguising himself,” Pol. Maj. Gen. Weerachon said.


According to investigation, in the early morning of Monday, July 8, Niphitphon drove his white-gray Toyota to park at Kad Gala in Mueang Chiang Mai district. He then walked along a nature trail to Doi Suthep, about 2 km before reaching Wat Pha Lat temple.

At 5 a.m., he called a Grab taxi. When he got into the back seat, he shot the driver in the back of the head, killing him instantly. He then dragged the body and dumped it off a cliff on Doi Suthep.

He then drove the victim’s white Toyota Altis to rob a gold shop in a downtown department store. After obtaining 80 baht weight of gold ornaments worth about 3 million baht, he drove back to the body dump site on Doi Suthep and walked back to his own car at Kad Gala.

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Police find the car stolen by the suspect for the gold shop robbery parked near the spot where he murdered the Grab driver on July 8, 2024.

He then drove around trying to sell the gold at various shops. The first three shops in the city refused to buy, suspecting it might be related to the gold shop robbery news. He then drove to the more distant San Kamphaeng district and managed to sell gold for about 70,000 baht, which he immediately transferred to his parents’ accounts.

At 7:00 p.m., based on a tip from a gold shop, police arrested Niphitphon at his residence. Evidence seized included a 9mm gun used to shoot the victim, clothes worn during the robbery, gold ornaments, and his car.

Pol. Lt. Gen. Kritthaphon Yisakhon, Commander of Provincial Police Region 5, interrogated Niphitphon at Phuping Chiang Mai Police Station. He revealed that Niphitphon had studied science at university but dropped out in his second year and was an avid gamer. He had planned the crime for 1 year and 2 months to help his parents pay off 10 million baht in debt. Before the robbery, he had scouted the gold shop, as evidenced by CCTV footage.

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The suspect, wearing a Grab employee uniform, swept gold necklaces from a gold shop located in a department store in downtown Chiang Mai on July 8.

The suspect confessed to all charges, including premeditated murder for robbery, vehicle theft, concealing and destroying a corpse, illegal possession of a firearm and ammunition, and snatching property.

When police took the suspect to reenact the crime and identify the body dump site, relatives of the Grab driver hurled curses and attempted to lynch him. Police quickly intervened and removed the suspect from the scene.

Rescue workers retrieved the body from the ravine and sent it to the forensic department at Maharaj Hospital. The deceased was identified as Acting Sub Lt. Suthep Chainanta, 48, who had previously worked in Rayong province but resigned to care for his 80-year-old ailing mother, working as a trainer and Grab driver for extra income.

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Rescue workers retrieve the body of the Grab driver who was shot in the back of the head by the suspect and thrown into a deep ravine.

The investigation revealed that the victim was randomly selected and had no prior connection or conflict with the suspect. He often took early morning jobs due to less competition and would nap at gas stations between rides.

The suspect’s parents visited their son on Tuesday during questioning and apologized to the media for their son’s actions. They confirmed that they had indeed lost 10 million baht in a gold trading scam 4-5 years ago, despite their son’s warnings at the time. Since then, the family had managed to continue living, though less comfortably. The son wasn’t working but cared for his mother, who gave him a monthly allowance of 15,000-20,000 baht.


The mother expressed shock at her son’s actions, describing him as polite and quiet but addicted to violent strategy and combat games since childhood. On the day of the incident, he behaved normally at home. They advised him to tell the full truth to potentially reduce his sentence but worried he might harm himself in custody.

“We deeply apologize and express our sincere condolences to the victim’s family. We will definitely go to pay respects and ask for forgiveness on behalf of our son,” the suspect’s mother said.