Police in Ho Chi Minh City are looking for four dog theft suspects who allegedly shot and killed three men who pursued them on Saturday night.
The three victims were Huynh Kim Bao, a 19-year-old driver from Cu Chi District, his neighbors Pham Nguyen Quoc Huu and Nguyen Minh Phuong.
Police said they were killed by hand-made guns at around 6:30 p.m, in the street.
Half an hour before their death, friends had called about dog thieves fleeing the area--so they hopped on two motorbikes and went after them.
A bullet struck Bao on the shoulder, sending him tumbling to the street where he died on the spot. Huu and Phuong succumbed to severe injuries soon after they were brought to hospital.
Huynh Van Thanh, Bao’s father, told Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper that his son was eager to catch the thieves because two of the family’s dogs had been electrocuted and stolen two days before.
Thanh said many dogs have recently been stolen from families in his commune (Tan Thanh Dong), stirring up a public anger.
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.
The crimes persist even though thieves have been caught and beaten to death in communal mob violence. Dog thieves were murdered in the northern province of Hai Duong in May 2013 and Thanh Hoa Province the following month.
As the stolen dogs are often valued less than VND2 million (the threshold for criminal charges) thieves only suffer a fine inspiring some victims to vent their rage on the thieves instead of handing them over to police.
In most cases, police have been unable to pinpoint exactly who is responsible for the attacks.
Following the murder of two dog thieves in the north-province of Quang Tri in 2012, 68 locals have come forward to confess to their roles in the crime after police arrested and convicted ten suspects in March.
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