Ho Chi Minh City police returned VND50 million and a US$600 golf laser range finder to a high-profile lawmaker on Thursday afternoon after arresting the two men who allegedly stole these items from his privately owned Mercedes.
Phan Thanh Do, 21, and Dinh Minh Quang, 22, were arrested on Thursday pending an investigations into their alleged “property theft,” Senior Lieutenant Colonel Trinh Van Sam, head of the District 9’s criminal police force, was quoted by news website VietNamNet as saying.
The theft allegedly took place at around 5:30 am on Thursday (January 1) when Tran Du Lich, an outspoken lawmaker representing HCMC, stopped his Mercedes E300 at a gas station in District 9. Lich was driving the car on his own and headed for the southern province of Dong Nai, 35 kilometers to the northeast of HCMC.
Just as Lich was about to begin filling his car with gas, the two men arrived at the station on a motorbike. While Quang was approaching the car, Do snuck into it and grabbed Lich's wallet containing VND50 million ($2,300) and ID documents and the range finder, according to the police.
The duo then fled the scene.
After discovering the theft, Lich reportedly asked eyewitnesses to help him report his loss to the police since he had to continue on to Dong Nai.
Acting on the tip-off, the District 9 police snapped into action and arrested Do at 2 pm on Thursday. They found VND38 million in cash on his person. The police later combed through his house, where they recovered the wallet with the Lich’s ID papers and the golf laser range finder.
Quang later turned himself over to the police. During questioning, the duo admitted that they had spent VND12 million of the stolen money.
Lich, a 62-year-old full-time lawmaker, was not immediately available for comment.
An economist by training, the media-friendly Lich is the deputy head of the HCMC lawmakers’ delegation. He has often taken the parliamentary floor to castigate the government for its handling of bread-and-butter issues, including corruption.
Full-time lawmakers account for 35 percent of the National Assembly, Vietnam’s legislature. The full-time legislators get between VND10 million to less than VND14 million per month.
Lich's profile does not say if he has any private business interests.