A mob of angry villagers in the northern province of Thanh Hoa set fire to two motorbikes that dog thieves abandoned in an effort to save their skins on Thursday morning.
Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper cited Pham Van Chuong, a police officer in Thach Dong Commune, Thach Thanh District, as saying locals had noticed four strange man riding around on a pair of motorbikes at 5:30 a.m.
Bui Van Quy, a dog owner, caught the thieves red-handed electrocuting his animals with a stun gun and cried out for his neighbors' help, the paper reported.
The thieves immediately fled the scene, leaving behind their vehicles and two sacks of dogs weighing nearly 100 kilograms.
The angry mob set fire to their motorbikes as soon as they found them.
Dog theft has grown increasingly common in Vietnam as the animals' meat has grown equally popular. Restaurants pay between VND100,000 and VND200,000 (US$4.8-$9.6) per dog.
The crimes have led to increasing instances of mob violence.
A commune police chief in 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.
The shock caused the vigilantes, who were trying to stab the fleeing thieves with knives, to crash into an electric pole.
Because stolen dogs are often valued at less than VND2 million (around $100) – the threshold for criminal charges – the idea that thieves will only suffer an administrative fine inspires some victims to resort to mob justice.
Hundreds of people in Dong Nai Province --just outside Ho Chi Minh City-- beat a suspected dog thief unconscious on July 1.
A number of 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.
Though few are arrested for the fatal beatings, vigilante killers are sometimes brought to court.
Following the murder of two dog thieves in the north-central province of Quang Tri in 2012, police rounded up ten suspects and convicted them in March of this year.
Following the convictions 68 of their fellow villagers came forward to confess to their roles in the crime.