Party chief helps police catch thief at central Vietnam festival

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Four thieves were arrested one of whom was nabbed by the Party chief of Hoi An Town Friday evening at a biannual cultural festival in Quang Nam Province to promote tourism to the province and Vietnam.

Nguyen Su, the Secretary of the Party Committee of the historic town of Hoi An, caught a man snatching a gold necklace from a woman on the An Hoi Bridge.

Police then came and handcuffed Luu Van Khanh, 28, a resident of the Mekong Delta province of An Giang.

Su was leading a mission aimed at guaranteeing security and order at the event to reconstitute a night in the historic town in early 20th century.

Hoi An police later arrested three other alleged thieves, Tran Ba Muoi, Pham Thi Loan and Tran Ngoc Doan, residents of Can Tho City, Dong Thap Province and Ho Chi Minh City respectively.

Following people's complaints, authorities recorded another nine cases of theft including pick-pocketing, in which five gold necklaces, two iPhone 4s and tens of millions in cash were stolen that night.

Thanh Nien learned that security had improved by Saturday.

Friday's activities were part of this year's Quang Nam Heritage Festival, a major event in the province which has been held since 2003.

This year, the event was co-organized by the People's Committee of Quang Nam, the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Vietnam National Commission for UNESCO, from June 21-26 in celebration of the 10-year anniversary of the UNESCO General Conference Convention's establishment of the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage in 2003.

Hoi An Town, which was recognized by UNESCO as a World Cultural Heritage Site in 1999, was the venue for the festival's opening ceremony on June 22, and will host most of the festival events.

Dinh Hai, director of Quang Nam Department of Culture, Sports and Tourism, said the festival is an important opportunity for the province to promote its tourism.

Quang Nam attracted more than 2.8 million visitors last year and expects the figure to increase by 20 percent every year, he said.

Incidents of theft are common at festivals in Vietnam.

Last August, Nguyen Van Oc, 56, from Can Tho, got two years in prison for pick-pocketing the cell phone of Argentine ambassador to Vietnam Alberto Jaime Kaminker four months earlier, as the official was watching a street carnival at the 2012 Hue Festival in the central province of Thua Thien-Hue.

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The arrest and sentence of Oc was carried out thanks to a photo taken by Kaminker's Venezuelan counterpart Jorge Rondon Uzcategui, which showed Oc standing next to Kaminker using his right hand to take the phone from a pouch attached to the ambassador's belt, as Oc's left hand held a camera to hide the theft in process.

He later admitted to stealing phones and money from festival-goers.

Investigators returned the phone to the Argentine diplomat.

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