Armed police guard supermarkets in Thailand amid fears of coronavirus crime surge

Armed police guarded supermarkets in Thailand amid fears that the coronavirus downturn could lead to looting and a surge in robberies.

The cops posed with automatic weapons and a police dog outside 7-eleven grocery shop in Pattaya, eastern Thailand, on Thursday night (March 26).

It came after a man covering his face with a black ski mask threatened staff with a gun before making off with 5,000THB (125GBP) from the till.

Police later arrived to investigate the scene and believed the thief to be aged around 35 to 40 years old.

Police Major Colonel Chainarong Jitsuthon ordered officers to be ready to response to further crime caused by the locals who struggled after revenue from tourism dried up because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

His team members were stationed outside the store and also carried out patrols at a nearby gas station. They will also be carrying out patrols at ATMS, gold shops and other businesses at risk.

The police chief said: "Many people have been laid off after the government ordered businesses to close and they are in desperately need of money.

"I'm worried that there might be more robberies and thefts as the supermarkets are one of the few businesses that are still allowed to open during this difficult time.

"So we have to handle this problem by providing police officers to patrol during the night and prepare to respond immediately if one should happen."

The COVID-19 coronavirus has decimated tourism in the country with fears it could take at least a year for the sector, which makes up a chunk of the country's GDP, to fully recover.