You Won’t Believe The Degree Of Cunning Used To Steal Our Watercolour Prints Just To Get A Few Baht

Big Time Art Thieves Could Learn A Thing Or Two From This Heist

If I was disenchanted with retiring in Thailand before we discovered this rip-off last night then I hate it now! And Kanyah knows this.

I just couldn’t believe how low ‘people’ will stoop and what tricks the will play just to get a few Baht in their pockets.

This episode disgusted me and Kanyah also. Please read the story below exactly as it unfolded last night (Saturday 14 Sept 2013).

Background To The Picture Thieves Story

A few years ago in a small local pub in Derbyshire, U.K. Kanyah and I marveled at a display of water colour paintings of typical Derbyshire country scenes signed by a J Manning. His address was shown on the display so we went to see him.

He showed us his prints taken from the originals he had painted himself and the degree of realism and detail was stunning.

Here is an example of one of the prints. Note that this is a scan of a photocopy of a print off the original master so much of the detail and realism is lost.

Photo showing J Manning Water Colour Derbyshire U.K. Winter Photocopy Scanned

J Manning Water Colour Derbyshire U.K. Winter Photocopy Scanned

We bought three of the prints all signed J Manning 2006  and I kept them at home while Kanyah came to Thailand to build our retirement house in Pakchong (Pak Chong) where we now life.

I bought the prints to her on a previous visit and she had them framed. I put them on the wall on this visit and you will see them in the photos below.

Kanyah Casually Mentioned That The Print Looked Smaller Than She Remembered

So, last night we were sitting in front of the TV. We weren’t watching it – it was switched off since although we can get 400+ channels they are all in the Thai language and just show trivial stuff.

Photo of Thai Retirement House Pak Chong TV and Two Paintings

Thai Retirement House Pak Chong TV and Two Paintings

Above a photo of our TV and two of the three pictures.

When Kanyah made that remark I took a closer look at the picture. I recalled that when I hung the pictures on the wall a couple of weeks ago I did notice that they seemed not to have the depth of quality that I remembered. (I have learned not to raise difficult issues though so I said nothing at the time.)

This time, however, I could see the lack of detail but I noticed something else. It seemed that behind the glass there was no board frame around the picture.

Normally when you have a picture framed they cut a rectangle of the correct size in a piece of board and your picture is framed within it. The board frame and the picture are then mounted in the wooden frame you have chosen.

I was positive that what I was looking at was a single sheet of paper like a photocopy of the picture and the frame.

Looking at the other two pictures I noticed that the pictures were all different sizes whereas the prints had all been exactly the same size.

I Opened The Picture Frame To Reveal The Photocopy

I persuaded Kanyah to let me open the frame and as I suspected out came a photocopy of our original prints.

Photo of J Manning Water Colour Derbyshire U.K. Winter Print Copy and Frame

J Manning Water Colour Derbyshire U.K. Winter Print Copy and Frame

Above is a photo of the picture frame and the photocopy of the print. You can see that the ‘print’ is integral with the border – it’s all one sheet of paper.

Kanyah Was Ripped Off In  Front Of Her Own Eyes

It was clear to me that the prints had been swapped for photocopies and that this all took place on Kanyah’s watch.

I was furious and Kanyah when she eventually believed me was also upset.

Complaining To The Framing Shop Was Out For Starters

I wanted to go back to the shop where she had the prints ‘framed’. (Hah! We’d been framed not the prints!)

No can do.

Kanyah explained that it was well over a year ago when she sent them to the shop.

Notice what I just said? “she sent them to the shop.”

She then explained that she had given the prints to our neighbour who took them to the shop. So Kanyah didn’t even know which shop it was.

The Three Week Waiting Trick

Kanyah go the frames and ‘prints’ back after three weeks, she told me.

Then it all clicked into place. The shop had photocopied our original prints, framed them and that is what our neighbour delivered back to Kanyah.

The three week wait was obviously so that Kanyah would forget what she had just handed over to be framed. She never noticed the difference.

You can get prints framed immediately in Thailand. I never heard of a three week wait before.

What the shop or the neighbour did with the original prints we have no idea.

We have no idea if this was just a trick by the frame shop and the neighbour had no knowledge of it or whether he was an accomplice in the heist.

The Other Two Pictures Are Also Fakes

If you look closely at the other two pictures below you will see that there is no border or shadow-line between the picture itself and the white border. Clearly these two pictures are also photocopies of the original prints.

Photo showing J Manning Water Colour Derbyshire U.K. Summer Bridge Photocopy in Frame

J Manning Water Colour Derbyshire U.K. Summer Bridge Photocopy in Frame

Above is a close up of one of the other two pictures of typical countryside scenes in Derbyshire, U.K. by J Manning.

Photo showing J Manning Water Colour Derbyshire U.K. Spring Bridge Photocopy in Frame

J Manning Water Colour Derbyshire U.K. Spring Bridge Photocopy in Frame

I’m Sick Of Living Here In Pak Chong

This episode sickens me. I was fed up already of living in Pak Chong and Kanyah and I have discussed this and discussed returning to England. This just adds to my disillusionment with retiring in Thailand.

She is refusing to go and I can’t afford to keep two people in two different houses in two countries.

Perhaps things will pick up here. I certainly miss all the things about England I have listed out previously.

If I had my full workshop machines and tools here it would be better. I’m limited what I can do with the tools I have and it’s not easy to buy the stuff I need in Thailand.

Perhaps The LU Project Will Let Me Off The Hook?

If you can believe LU that contract I spoke about before I came hear might materialise. Then, if it’s awarded to me, I can go back to U.K. to do it. At least some of the time.

PS They Stole The Telephone Wires From Len And He Had No Communications For A Week

This is a separate story but it just shows that they’ll steal anything to get a few Baht.

They stole 100+ meters of telephone cable and the telecoms to the village were out for a week.

Read the story here:-






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17 Responses to “Watercolour Prints Stolen – Swapped For Photocopies”

  • Dudley Carelse:

    Shocking Alan. So sorry to hear this. Sounds like this is an ongoing racket. You should try to get to the bottom of it all.  Dudley. 


    admin Reply:


    Thanks for your comment. It was so long ago now that it’s impossible to follow up.

    Kanyah didn’t get any receipt and to try to open a dialogue with the neighbor would just end up in (another) row.

    I forgot to mention that the cost of each frame and the framing was only 40 Baht. I’m not surprised now that they were so cheap.

    Chok Dee
    Good Luck

    Alan and Kanyah Brown
    Surfin’ the World


  • Alan:

    Just a test to see if this subscription to notifications to new posts works.


  • Allan Leung:

    This also happened to me.

    My house was ransacked by thieves 2 years ago. Since the house is empty (I live in H.K.), the thief broken into the house by cutting the lock of the iron door.

    The thief cut and took fuse box, electrical cable, compressors of the air conditioners and removed all water taps. The thief also climbed up to the false ceiling to search any valuable things up there. As a result, the false ceiling boards fell apart.

    The thief took very little valuable stuff away but caused a lot of damage of the house. I just wonder how the thief cut the incoming cables without getting electrocuted by touching live wire.

    Last year we went back Thailand and my neighbour in front of my house informed us of a thief visiting our house again.

    We went back to check and found that the thief cut the incoming live electrical cable near the rooftop probably during heavy rainfall. It could be very dangerous for cutting live wire.

    The thief tried to break in the house through the window. Lucklily we locked it otherwise he stayed inside the house and caused more damage.

    Anyway, we reported the case to police again. It is very likely that this is the same thief who visited our house before. The house is vacant. Don’t know how to safeguard the house unless there is someone in the house all the time.

    In spite of all misfortunes, we decided to renovate whole house plus house extension for kitchen. Bore piling and installation of concrete floor were completed. Probably we shall do renovation next year. Good luck.



    admin Reply:

    Hi Allan and thank you for your comment.

    It’s such a long time since you posted it you may have forgotten. I have been so busy with sorting out this retirement in Thailand project I have had little time to answer all the comments but I’m putting today aside for that.

    It’s unbelievable what they have done to your house. They’ll do anything to anyone just to gain a few Baht.

    Where is your house, that probably has a lot to do with it?

    Is the house renovated yet? Please update us.

    Best Regards



  • mel:

    hi alan, subscription seems fine.
    sorry to hear about the prints, but that sort of thing happens here as well.
    so do not get to disillusioned
    i have three bottles of guinness extra i will  put them in the fridge for your return.


    admin Reply:


    I do remember bringing those prints into the Plough when I bought them Can you recall?

    Thanks for the Guinness – I’ll be calling in sooner rather than later!

    Chok Dee
    Good Luck

    Alan and Kanyah Brown
    Surfin’ the World


  • Mike & Pan:

    So sorry to read that you were so blatantly ripped off, but try to remember that this sort of thing could have happened anywhere.  I’m currently living in the USA and thieves here have discovered that metal scrap dealers will pay them for all the copper wire they steal from empty homes or even baseball park lights.  
    BTW, have you tried ordering the tools you need and cannot find locally, via the internet?
    Also, on one of my last visits to Thailand, I found a wonder tool supply shop in the Ban Khen district, on Ram Inthra street in Bangkok.  The shop had many mill and lathe tools and cutting bits.  I still have his business card squirreled away in a desk drawer somewhere,…If you would like I will look it up for you.  The building the shop is in and surrounding area, all cater to the machine business,…much like a flea market area that has only tools.
    I do hope things get better for you.


    admin Reply:

    Mike, thanks for the comments.

    Can I just respond to a couple of points you raised?

    “BTW, have you tried ordering the tools you need and cannot find locally, via the internet?”

    Yes, I have bought small tools from both U.K. and Australia and had them delivered through the normal mail. These were small packets and took 7 days to arrive from placing order to receiving them here in Pakchong (Pak Chong).

    Pretty good I thought.

    But it gets a bit more problematic with bigger items. First you have the extra postage costs then there is the Thai Customs to deal with and the reputation of things going missing. I sent a letter to Alex in the UK from the Post Office in Pakchong (Pak Chong) over two weeks ago and he still hasn’t received it.

    Plus I sent some boxes to Kanyah in Bangkok from the UK a couple of years ago and it took a week to get them cleared through customs and cost an arm and a leg. (Typical story).

    I haven’t any experience of sending larger parcels to myself in Pakchong. There is something I want to buy (not a tool) but I’m hesitant to place the order.

    “Also, on one of my last visits to Thailand, I found a wonder tool supply shop in the Ban Khen district, on Ram Inthra street in Bangkok. The shop had many mill and lathe tools and cutting bits. I still have his business card squirreled away in a desk drawer somewhere,”

    Now you’ve really caught my interest, Mike.

    Yes please try to find that card. It could take us days in Bangkok trying to find that kind of shop you describe.

    Many thanks



    Mike & Pan Reply:

    Hello Alan,
    Well, I haven’t found that business card yet, but I can tell you that the machine tools shop is located inside the Khlong Thom Center in Bangkok.  The building is full of small shops selling all sorts of tools and parts.  As I recall, the machine tool supplier was located a short distance down the second aisle on the right, after you enter the front of the store (which is just past the KFC on the right).  Once inside the Center, I was able to find the store by showing a few other vendors a photocopy of a milling bit, and they quickly sent me in the correct direction.  Below is a hyperlink to the google maps for the Khlong Thom Center; if you use the “streetview” feature on the map you’ll be able to see what the outside front of the store looks like.,or.r_qf.&biw=1536&bih=749&dpr=1&bvm=pv.xjs.s.en_US.RJfod4swqLE.O&um=1&ie=UTF-8&hl=en&sa=N&tab=wl
    My wife strongly recommends driving only a short distance into Bangkok, pepaps parking at a shopping mall or flea market, then taking a taxi to Khlong Thom Center, as this part of Bangkok is very crowded, traffic is a nightmare, and finding parking will be a challenge.  
    Happy shopping,


    admin Reply:

    Mike, many thanks for the info and advice, I’ll certainly look into this and perhaps someone reading this can throw some light on the subject.

    (Where to buy small machine tools and tools in Bangkok/Thailand)

    I was told that China Town in Bangkok was the place to go but I really need something a bit more specific than that.

    Chok Dee
    Good Luck

    Alan and Kanyah Brown


  • pat:

    Sorry to hear about that. I would assume this kind of swindling could happen anywhere.
    Hopefully, you will get the contract you mentioned and be able to go back to the UK for awhile.


  • George:

    Good evening Alan
    Just read the report about the water colour scam.
    Many years ago I was with my wife and a friend of hers in a pawn shop. I watched as they both counted the links in a gold chain that the friend wanted to pawn. I asked what they were doing. It was explained to me it was not unknown for a link or two to be removed by some of the more unreliable shops.


  • Alan:

    George thanks for the story,

    As many people have said this could have happened anywhere in the world. It’s just the pettiness of it hat annoys me.

    Reminds me of another story about getting ripped off and this time it wasn’t petty.

    Before I married Kanyah (many years ago) I was working in Saudi Arabia and decided to buy Kabyah a watch as a present to give her on my next trip to Thailand.

    I decided on an Omega gold watch with a braid bracelet, not a linked bracelet. Can’t remember the price now but it was several thousand dollars (US$).

    I bought it Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

    Kanyah was naturally delighted when I gave it to her.

    Couple of years later the gold started to wear off the bracelet leaving a lead coloured material. Then when it stopped working we took it to an Omega distributor to get the battery replaced – or so we thought.

    “This is not Omega” the man in the shop said.

    I had been duped. The guy in the watch shop must have switched it when I bought it.

    Not a cat in hell’s chance of going back to the shop and getting a real one.


  • Alex:

    Read about the watercolours.
    Such narrow minded people.
    Imagine if they didn’t steal those watercolours but instead did a fantastic job of framing and chucked in a few extra picture hooks and a voucher for 20% your next order and a lifetime guarantee of their work.
    You’d be their customer for life and you’d tell your neighbours and friends about good they were, earning them turnover tenfold.
    Instead they take the short term view and steal from their customers guaranteeing their future failure.
    Very disappointing. It happens everywhere though, albeit probably less in the UK.
    How much did they cost anyway? I hope it wasn’t loads.


    admin Reply:

    Hi Alex and thank’s for the comment.

    The watercolour prints cost about £20 each, I would have paid £100 each and I’m sure they could be sold for £150 they were so exquisite.

    But that’s not the point. The point is that the are gone forever. I guess somewhere I have the address of the painter J Manning so enquiries could be made to see if we can get replacements.

    But with me being in Thailand that’s not likely to happen and heh that was last week’s story. Were on to new stuff this week.

    Chok Dee
    Good Luck

    Alan and Kanyah Brown
    Surfin’ the World


  • patrick:

    Hope all is well!


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