Crash-and-steal gang targeting foreigners busted in Vietnam metro

By Dam Huy, Thanh Nien News

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The arrestees in the gang led by Tran Thi Tuyet Mai (2,L) who often orchestrating accidents to rob foreign tourists in Vietnam. Photo: CTV

Ho Chi Minh City police have arrested 13 people accused of stealing property of hundreds of foreigners by staging a traffic accident.

Police said the gang leader is 49-year-old Tran Thi Tuyet Mai, who was arrested together with five accomplices red handed on June 25 when they were attempting to steal an iPhone 5 of a South Korean tourist at the Ham Nghi – Nam Ky Khoi Nghia corner.
Further investigation led to the arrests of seven others, including a couple who own a cell phone shop in District 4.
According to police, the gang's modus operandi usually involved a a motorbike rider colliding with the potential “prey.” A woman member would pretend to fall on the victim while another member would steal their money and property.
The suspects are aged from 17-56, all city locals and many of them are relatives of Mai's.

Tran Thi Tuyet Mai (top left) and other suspects arrested by Ho Chi Minh City police for stealing.
They confessed of stealing properties in more than 200 cases, not only in HCMC but also in common tourist destinations like Vung Tau, Binh Thuan and Nha Trang.
They told the police they scoured for preys every day on the city downtown, including the foreigners’ backpacker area, Ben Thanh Market and the streets of Le Loi, Ham Nghi, Nguyen Hue, Ly Tu Trong and Nam Ky Khoi Nghia.
The crack down on the gang was part of a campaign launched in March by the city police department, who has been reported about many similar cases since mid-2013.
A city police official who refers anonymity said the gang members are very dangerous because they often drive with high speed on wrong direction and running red light to avoid being caught by the police.
“Mai is a cunning criminal who employs her relatives for her gang, including her own children and sons-in-law,” he said.
Mai was arrested and tried a few times but she "got pregnant to avoid strict punishment or delayed conviction," the officer said. Mai has ten children.
He also said Mai hired xe om (motorbike taxi) drivers and hawkers to watch out for police patrols for their operation.
Police are investigating the case further.

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