BANGKOK, Thailand -- Evoking Charlie's Angels, 007, and The Bourne Identity, Thailand's most famous female detective adjusts her spy gadgets while preparing to hunt murderers, thieves, corrupt officials and people who cheat on lovers.

Neatly incognito and classically clandestine, Aumnaoyporn Maneewan, 42, follows her "target" anywhere, and usually confirms the crime.

"I am a private eye."

During 14 years of sleuthing, most of her cases have included lusty married men who enjoy secret trysts with a "second wife" or "minor wife," popularly known as a "mia noi."

About 90 percent of those adultery cases are true, says Aumnaoyporn, speaking a mix of English and Thai during an interview at her Decha & IBS Ltd office (

"The first wife gives me the details, about what she suspects of the mia noi. I follow the husband, sometimes driving a car, sometimes walking. I use a tiny video recorder and other gadgets.

"Anywhere the husband goes, we will be there, in the market, in the office, in the restaurant, anywhere he goes. I lead a three-person team.

"It costs the wife 40,000 baht ($1,300) per week to hire me. Usually the case takes just one week for me to prove."

One case turned violent, however, after Aumnaoyporn told the wife about the husband's infidelity.

"When she saw the proof, she called the husband and mia noi, to talk together with her. And then, she shot them. Both of them died.

"She is now in court, on trial for killing them."

Some cases involve corporate crime, including revenge-filled executives who are fired and then steal confidential data or client lists, which they try to sell to a competing company.

"We will meet with the corporations and the clients, so the person can be taken to court and jail," she says.

Aumnaoyporn does not use her fists or carry a gun, and instead relies on daggerless cloaks.

"She is a transformer. She can be anything. She can sell 'som tom', she can be a pizza girl, she can be anything that she needs to be," said Phonlawat Kittivittayanan, her efficient 19-year-old assistant.

Phonlawat said his skill is tracking suspects online, through Facebook, Twitter and other Web sites.

Aumnaoyporn said she did not need to fight.

"If there is a fight, I can run away very fast," she said.

"I like being a detective because it is exciting, full of action, and I have to think all the time, every minute, every hour, about what to do next. But this job is not easy, you must be born to be a detective.

"It is very hard, and tiring, and very dangerous. You can't imagine how complicated it is to be a detective.

"I have had lessons in how to be a detective, but I also learned some techniques from the movies, such as The Bourne Identity starring Matt Damon, especially how he relies on his own two hands, and does not rely too much on equipment or gadgets. Also about planning and teamwork. And how he can run away every time."

Aumnaoyporn is considered Thailand's most experienced female detective, and has written two books about her adventures.

"There is a difference in what a male and female detective can do. Most of my cases are about adultery, and most of my customers who hire me are women. A female detective can talk and work with a woman better than a man, especially in the case of a mia noi.

"A female detective can also go almost anywhere without attracting much attention from people, unlike when a man goes somewhere."

For homicide and other heavy cases, Aumnaoyporn works only with officials, and not for private clients.

"We accept murder cases only from the government's Department of Special Investigation, the DSI, which is like the FBI in America. They hire us because the DSI is limited by law as to what they can do in an investigation, but we can do many things that they cannot legally do.

"About 80 percent of the cases we do for the DSI are about corruption, and about 20 percent are murder cases. I've done six murder cases for the DSI. All those cases were business cases.

"One of them was a man who was a murderer, and had many forms of surgery to change his face. He was like a Mafia person. He killed many people in business disputes."

She sports some relatively simple, potentially devastating, high-tech surveillance equipment which is small enough to fit in the palm of her manicured hand.

Aumnaoyporn relies on video cameras to record most the evidence, and has digital video cameras hidden in normal items which she wears, such as a keychain, pen, hat, glasses, shirt button, or wristwatch.

She also gives a wife a tiny unit, to place inside a husband's car, to track his destinations via GPS and simultaneously record all conversations inside the vehicle.

Foreigners also employ her on cases usually involving adultery.

"Two to four foreigners call, or e-mail me, every month to hire me. Most are foreign women worried about their husband being with a mia noi.

"Also, for example, an American man hired me to be a detective. He had a Thai wife, and asked me to track her in Thailand, because he lived in another country and could not watch her all the time.

"He wanted to know her behavior, because he sent her money every month. When we checked her, she turned out to be a bar girl. Most of the girls who we check on, for foreign men, are bar girls.

"There are also many cases when a bar girl goes to court and demands money from the foreign man, for her baby. So they do a DNA test. And yes, it is true in 70 percent of the time, that the father is the foreign man."

Aumnaoyporn's boss is Decha Kittivittayanan, CEO of Decha & IBS, established in 1995, and also the father of Aumnaoyporn's assistant, Phonlawat.

Chuckling with delight, Decha says he can imagine being Charlie, with Aumnaoyporn as one of his angels.

"She looks like, and she aspires and imagines to be, a Charlie's angel," Decha said, eyeing her in his office upstairs.

"Do you think she looks like a Charlie's angel?" asks Decha, who includes "007" in his e-mail name.

He said a woman has some advantages compared to a man, as a detective.

"A female can come to an elegant place, a five-star hotel, and it is easy. For a man, maybe is hard to go into a hotel, because there is a guard and security.

"But a man is better for rural upcountry, or in the dangerous place."

On a few occasions, Decha's male detectives were hit in a fight -- something unheard of for a female private eye.

"Women maybe blocked by a person who will call the police, and be taken to the police station, where the man will ask the police, 'She follows me, for what?'"


Richard S Ehrlich is a Bangkok-based journalist who has reported news from Asia since 1978. He is co-author of Hello My Big Big Honey!, a non-fiction book of investigative journalism. His web page is

Asia Correspondent

(Copyright 2011 Richard S Ehrlich)