Communal mob attack fells dog thief in southern Vietnam

By Thanh Chuong, Thanh Nien News

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The motorbike of Tran Thanh Hoai remains with two poisoned dogs after the police in Dong Nai Province rushed the dog thief to hospital following a mob attack by angry locals on July 1, 2014. Photo: Thanh Chuong The motorbike of Tran Thanh Hoai remains with two poisoned dogs after the police in Dong Nai Province rushed the dog thief to hospital following a mob attack by angry locals on July 1, 2014. Photo: Thanh Chuong

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Hundreds of people in Dong Nai Province beat a suspected dog thief unconscious on Tuesday in the latest episode of dog theft violence in Vietnam.
Police in Quang Trung Commune, Thong Nhat District, said locals noticed Tran Thanh Hoai, 46, trying to feed dogs poisoned bait.
Hoai attempted to flee on his motorbike, but residents caught up to him and beat him unconscious a kilometer down the road.
Police broke up the scene and took him to hospital. Police also recovered two poisoned dogs on his motorbike.
That same day, Dong Nai police arrested Tran Cong Tam, 17, and Hoai’s nephew Tran Hung Thinh, 32, after chasing them for more than three kilometers. 
The two men had three dead dogs on their motorbike. 
Tam and Thinh said they stole the dogs from Trang Bom District and were on the way to sell them.
While many families in Vietnam raise dogs as pets, many also consider the animals a delicacy. 
Restaurants pay between VND100,000 and VND200,000 (US$4.8-$9.6) per dog.
Because stolen dogs are often valued less than VND2 million (around US$100) – the threshold for criminal charges – the idea that thieves only suffer an administrative fine inspires some victims to resort to vigilante justice.

(L-R) Tran Cong Tam, 17, and Tran Hung Thinh, 32, at a police station in Dong Nai Province after they were arrested for stealing three local dogs on July 1, 2014. Photo: Thanh Chuong
Dog thieves were murdered in communal mob violence in the northern province of Hai Duong in May 2013 and Thanh Hoa Province the following month.
In most cases, police are unable to pinpoint exactly who is responsible for the attacks.
Following the murder of two dog thieves in the central province of Quang Tri in 2012, 68 locals came forward to confess to their roles in the crime after ten suspects were convicted in March.
Attacks by dog thieves are also common, and sometimes fatal as they often carry weapons.
A commune police chief in the northern province of Thanh Hoa was hospitalized late last month after a pair of dog thieves beat him with iron bars.
That same month, four dog thieves in Ho Chi Minh City killed three teenage vigilantes during a high-speed chase.
The dog thieves, who later turned themselves in, confessed to electrocuting their pursuers (all riding on a single motorbike) with an improvised stun gun after they drew knives.
The shock caused them to crash into an electric pole.

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