The suspect, identified as Sompoj Krutpuak, 32, was apprehended at a rented apartment in tambon Bang Ramard in Talingchan district and taken to a press briefing at Khlong Luang police station on Sunday.
Mr Sompoj was accused of assaulting and robbing Zhang Li, a tourist from China’s Yunnan province, of her suitcase which contained clothes, 3,000 baht in cash, 500 yuan (about 2,600 baht), a book bank and plane ticket.
Mr Sompoj allegedly confessed to the crime, saying he did it because he had financial problems and had no money to pay for the daily rent for his taxi.
The native of Surat Thani said Ms Li asked him to take her from MBK shopping complex near Pathumwan intersection to Don Mueang airport on Thursday afternoon.
However, he drove the wrong way, leading her to the frontage road that runs parallel to the motorway in Pathum Thani’s Khlong Luang district to rob her.
Mr Sompoj claimed he only ordered Ms Zhang to hand over her money and the young woman panicked, got out of the car, ran away and tripped in the process. He then fled with her suitcase. But the passenger said Mr Sompoj stopped the car and punched her in the stomach several times. The tourist sustained minor injuries to her legs when trying to flee from Mr Sompoj.
The driver said he spent 1,200 baht of the stolen money on taxi rental in the evening of Thursday and the rest on gallivanting around and gambling.
Pathum Thani police chief Pol Maj Gen Samithi Mukdasanit said investigators had contacted Ms Zhang who had returned to China via email and she confirmed the suspect’s identity. Mr Sompoj faces a robbery charge.