Police in Ho Chi Minh City have arrested a gang of thieves that stoke scores of motorbikes and personal affects with the help of a meth-smoking, lock-picking prodigy.
On Friday, Lieutenant Colonel Nguyen Thanh Huyen of the Social Crime Division announced that his team had detained the men behind more than 30 break-ins throughout the city.
Police have kept tabs on the group since early this year.
On August 7, they arrested two members while they were boosting a pair of laptops from a home in an alley in Go Vap District.
An ex-con with a previous robbery conviction named Nguyen Van Dong, 43, was arrested along with five of his co-conspirators and a man who purchased the proceeds of their crimes.
Police say Dong recruited a lock-picking prodigy named Le Phu Quy, 22, whom they described as notorious within the city's underworld.
Quy was trained by another master thief named An, who was arrested by city police in late 2013. An’s two other protégés--Nguyen Ta Tuyet Trinh, 22, and a person described only as Thang--are also being held for theft.
Motorbikes that Ho Chi Minh City police seized from a gang of lock-picking housebreakers. Photo: Nguyen Bao
Police say Dong bought the latest locks for Quy to practice unlocking.
He could reportedly open them in seconds using only an iron pick.
Police said he could open any lock, without looking.
Quy entered his victims homes while lookouts kept an eye out for police and militiamen.
Investigators said the gang usually struck around noon and midnight.
They would typically gather at a hotel to smoke meth before striking.
Police believe they are responsible for break-ins in districts 12, Tan Binh, Tan Phu, Go Vap and Hoc Mon.
They say the gang stole a number of motorbikes, televisions and safes.
They sold the items to Nguyen Thanh Tam, 25, who fenced them in Cambodia along with forged registrations.
A police investigation into the operation remains underway.