Vietnam metro begins massive crackdown ahead of crime-prone Lunar New Year

TN News

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Ho Chi Minh City has launched a massive campaign against crime ahead of Tet (the Lunar New Year) and sought assistance from several provinces in the north and south.

Hai Phong and Nam Dinh Provinces and Hanoi in the north along with Long An, Tay Ninh, Dong Nai, Binh Duong, and Ba Ria-Vung Tau near HCMC will help foil gambling, burglaries, robberies, drug trafficking, and the smuggling in of firecrackers.

The New Year, the country's biggest holiday, which comes in early February this year, is usually a crime-prone period.

Phan Anh Minh, deputy director of the city police, explained at a conference Saturday that many people indulge in thefts during the holiday season just to gamble.

Even murders have occurred as people seek to lay their hands on some extra money to go home for Tet.

The city police said one of the vulnerabilities in fighting crime has been the poor oversight of hotels and guesthouses where criminals hide.

So they will collaborate with the police from the other provinces to keep a close eye on these places.

Efforts will also be stepped up to contain the smuggling of firecrackers and other goods into and out of the city, and the smuggling of stolen motorbikes to Cambodia through Tay Ninh Province.

Vietnam banned the use of firecrackers in 1999 out of safety concerns, but illegal production and smuggling from China, where firecrackers are still legal in some places, have fueled demand of late.

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The city police also asked their counterparts in the north to watch out for stolen motorbikes smuggled from the south.

The Ministry of Public Security has promised to send mobile police forces to help with the campaign between January 15 and February 3, a week before Tet.

Minh said the city police arrested 4,679 people for crimes in 2012, with nearly 30 percent of the criminals coming from nearby provinces.

But people from the city also committed crimes elsewhere, he said.

There had been around 5,000 crimes in the city, down 7 percent from the previous year, but the sophistication had increased, causing more casualties and property loss, he said.

But an official from the Ministry of Public Security doubted the figures, saying he did not think crime had reduced.

The police might have only recorded a third of the cases at most, with the rest either not reported by victims or covered up by local authorities with an eye on awards for low crime rates, he said.

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