Residents in the Mekong Delta's Bac Lieu Province have smashed hundreds of stakes protecting a coastal dyke to sell the steel core to metal scrap dealers.
A total of 813 stakes were damaged, all at night, said Pham Thanh Hai, head of Bac Lieu dyke maintenance department.
The eastern Bac Lieu dyke runs 56 kilometers to shield the mainland from rising sea levels at high tide. The dyke protects more than 51,000 hectares of shrimp ponds, salt fields, forest reserves and thousands of coastal homes.
It has a stake every ten meters.
The stake theivery has "severely violated" Vietnam's Law of Dykes and Dyke Maintenance, said Truong Van Phuong, deputy head of Bac Lieu Irrigation Department.
But Truong Minh Khoi, a local police officer, said it's hard to catch the culprits because the dyke was surrounded by forests and there are no street lights.
Khoi said the police needed help from local associations and agencies to help track down suspects.