Japanese visitor gets bag full of cash back from Bangkok cab

BANGKOK (AP) — A Bangkok taxi driver says he didn’t know what was in the green backpack a Japanese customer left behind in the trunk of his cab, but he knew what he had to do — hand it over to police.

When he did, Thanakrit Hengniran learned that inside were 16 fancy T-shirts, a Macintosh computer and 800,000 yen ($7,800) in cash.

Thanakrit, 40, said he had no regrets about handing over the bag to the Tourist Police, who returned it Thursday to its owner, 29-year-old Keishi Kobayashi, who is in the garment business.

“I’m happy that he’s OK and didn’t lose anything, that it made him feel good about Thailand and Thai people,” said Thanakrit. “We have discipline, just like the people in his own country.”

For his good deed, Thanakrit received a 5,000 baht ($140) reward from Kobayashi, who lost the backpack on June 24.

Already scrambling to make ends meet, Bangkok taxi drivers are facing increasing competition from motorbikes and services such as Uber. However, good Samaritan stories involving taxi drivers are not unusual, said Deputy Superintendent Pramote Chanboonkaew of Bangkok’s Bukkalo Police Station, where cabbie, customer and backpack were reunited.

He said the lost and found process is not entirely dependent upon honesty. Surveillance videos often can be analyzed by police to see what taxi was involved, just as they can be used for other investigations, he said.

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