Some neighborhood guards act as lookouts for criminals: police

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A group of pickpockets targeting foreigners arrested in Ho Chi Minh City's District 1 this year. Photo credit: Dan Tri A group of pickpockets targeting foreigners arrested in Ho Chi Minh City's District 1 this year. Photo credit: Dan Tri

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Street crimes against foreigners in Ho Chi Minh City have been hard to tackle as snatchers and pickpockets receive help from some neighborhood watch guards, police said at a conference Friday.
Police said they have discovered from working on several cases that some members of a volunteer security force set up to assist the police have instead acted as lookouts for criminals. 
Colonel Le Ngoc Phuong, head of the crime division, said the unit has received a lot of complaints from various consulates in the city about rampant pickpocketing in the downtown, which sometimes happened to more than ten foreign tourists a day.
“The pickpockets have neighborhood guards on their side, warning them anytime inspectors came to an area,” Phuong said, as cited by news website VnExpress.
“It’s extremely hard to catch the pickpockets red-handed.”
It's not clear if any guards have been questioned or punished.
Phuong said the police sometimes asked foreign victims to help them. Their assistance allowed the police to arrest 20 pickpockets recently, he said.
The officer assured that criminal gangs did not enter the city downtown, but admitted that police have not managed to maintain security in the outskirts.
Ho Sy Tien, director of the criminal police at the Ministry of Public Security, said the number of crimes in the country this year has reduced, but they remained serious.
“Some criminals were more violent and reckless,” Tien said.

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