Police in the central province of Binh Thuan have pressed charges against four men who robbed a local gold shop of around 1,200 grams of the precious last Friday.
Nguyen Mark Joseph (or Khanh), a 35-year-old Vietnamese American, is said to be the mastermind behind the robbery, with Nguyen Phuoc Hai, 34, Nguyen Bao Quoc, 33, and Huynh Ngoc Thai, 23, acting as his accomplices.
At around 7 p.m. on October 14, the four drove a seven-seater Toyota Innova and stormed into the Thu Thanh Gold Shop in Bac Binh District.
While Hai used a hammer to break a glass cabinet to take the gold, Quoc and Thai sprayed tear gas at the people present in the shop. They also slashed at the hands of shop owner Ly Quang Dong with a knife when he tried to stop them.
Khanh then shot a stun gun to prevent anyone else from approaching them.
Two of the thieves then collected all the gold in the shop in a bag and jumped into the car to get away.
When the car approached a gas station, Thai and Quoc jumped out with the bag containing the gold to distract police officers.
Hai and Khanh then sped away on National Highway 1A, but crashed into a roadside house, killing Nguyen Nam, a 49-year-old resident who was standing in the front yard.
They got out of the car to run away, but were grabbed by nearby residents and police officers.
Some outraged residents pulled the car on to the highway and set it on fire.
Nguyen Hai Dang, a local traffic police officer who participated in the chase after the robbers, said the robbers had pointed guns and fired at the police twice. It was later found that they were using rubber bullets.
Two days after the robbery, Thai was arrested in his house in Ho Chi Minh City and Quoc gave himself up to the police one day later.
Quoc told the police he had dropped the gold bag on the way. The gold has yet to be recovered.
Khanh, the gang leader, said he had returned to Vietnam three years ago to deal in wines. He had been convicted for tax evasion and drug dealing in the US.
He said he robbed the gold shop to get money for his business. He had drawn up a plan and asked the three men to join him.
The gang hired a car and drove to Phan Thiet Town, the capital of Binh Thuan Province, but could not find any gold shop there that could be robbed easily. So they found one in Bac Binh District.