Villains who disguise themselves as bus drivers have robbed passengers in Ho Chi Minh City for years in broad daylight, but local police have failed to discover them despite fights between passengers and the criminals.
Those form a team of around ten robbers who are either drug addicts or have recently finished jail terms.
They have three passenger buses which appear outdated and ragged, and often park them around the Mien Tay (Western) Bus Station in Binh Tan District to pick up passengers illegally.
Their buses are numbered 53M-2817, 54S-6445, and 51B-05049, according to a Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper probe.
They mainly target elderly, female and slightly built passengers who will be unlikely to resist.
If a bus receives more than ten passengers, they transfer some to one of the other two vehicles.
They have weapons including knives and steel tubes to use against any passenger who does put up some resistance.
Their victims are mostly innocent people who rarely travel to cities.
The ring has even been aided by taxi motorbike drivers who are given tips to carry passengers to them.
On October 27, drivers Liem, Dac, and Bo physically attacked a passenger so badly that he vomited blood and suffered multiple injuries on his body.
They caused his two-year-old son to fall out of his arms while assaulting him. The passenger is Nguyen Van Tuan, 26, coming from the Mekong Delta province of Kien Giang.
After that, they robbed him of VND1.3 million (US$58).
Tuoi Tre journalists followed them for weeks and found out that they spent most of the money they robbed on drugs and playing online games.
They live in a rented house in an alley of Nguyen Trong Tri Street in An Lac Ward of Binh Tan District.
The criminal ring has brought fear not only to innocent passengers but also locals living around the Mien Tay Bus Station and on Kinh Duong Vuong Street nearby, from An Lac Post Office to the Comeco fuel station.
To avoid being busted, the robbers search for and seize all mobile phones and any other objects able to take pictures and record sounds.
Every day, the ring commit six or seven robberies, pocketing dozens of millions of dong (VND10 million = $440).
After completing their crimes, they hide their three vehicles in an alley at 532 Kinh Duong Vuong Street in Binh Tri Dong Ward of Binh Tan District.
The Tuoi Tre journalists witnessed the theft from nearly a hundred passengers between November 8 and 14.
They often start a day with breakfast at the Hai Hum restaurant on National Highway 1 in Binh Chanh District.
The management of the Mien Tay Bus Station told Tuoi Tre that the three buses used by the ring are not registered to transport passengers to and from the station.
Senior Lieutenant Colonel Nguyen Van Hue, vice head of the police department of Binh Tan District, told the newspaper that some of the robbers had been arrested but they are now at large out of unknown reasons.
However, he defended Binh Tan as the locality where the crimes started, but not the place where the crime was carried out.
So he will prepare documents to send to the relevant authorities of other districts and Long An Province, which borders his district, to deal with the problem.