An increase in theft, muggings and robberies have worried neighborhoods around industrial parks in Ho Chi Minh City and neighboring provinces, despite law enforcers’ best efforts to reduce them.
Tan Tao Industrial Park and Pou Yuen Factory, both in the city’s Binh Tan District, are among the identified ‘hotpots.’
Among the most vulnerable are peddlers who eke out a meager living selling food, clothes and other essentials to factory workers.
At around 8:00 am one recent morning, a Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper reporter witnessed, to his horror, a young man speeding on his motorbike and almost crashing into those sitting or walking on the pavement in a neighborhood called Ten Lua (Rocket) in the district.
The two large sacks he was carrying made everyone think he was a tobacco smuggler, similar to those they see dashing through the neighborhood every day.
It was not until they saw another man frantically running after the first that they realize he was a robber.
A few local night watchmen immediately gave pursuit, but the robber vanished into the crisscrossing laneways.
The victim, Ly Tung, who had left his hometown in the Mekong Delta to peddle clothes to workers in industrial parks, lamented that the man had robbed him just after he had put his goods into sacks at the end of a slow business morning.
The stolen property was worth nearly VND20 million (US$ 868).
Several other vendors along the small streets near the back entrance of the Pou Yuen Factory confirmed to the Tuoi Tre reporter that they had also fallen victim to burglars and robbers several times, and that they hardly ever dropped their guard.
Le Thi Phuong, another clothes seller, complained that she had fallen prey to thieves four times despite her constant guard.
“The thieves strike when I’m busy with clients. They even send their accomplices to pretend to be customers to distract me,” she said.
Following three thefts, Phuong had become more cautious and now keeps her stock in a local home, but her precaution failed to deter a group of brazen criminals from completing their fourth operation.
Phuong estimates her losses to total more than a dozen million dong (VND1 million is equivalent to $44).
|Ly Tung, a clothes peddler, loses two sacks of items worth nearly VND20 million (US$875) to robbers within seconds. Photo: Tuoi Tre|
One of her customers also recently had her handbag containing cash and papers snatched.
Bui Thai Hang, Phuong’s neighbor, has also had property worth approximately VND30 million ($1,301) taken in a single theft.
An investigation by the Tuoi Tre reporter at other processing zones and industrial parks – including Tan Thuan, Vinh Loc, Linh Trung, Song Than (in Binh Duong Province,) and Tan Do (in Long An Province) – found that more than 100 burglaries had been recorded over only a few days.
The statistics do not include those which go unreported, with victims apprehensive about the possibility of revenge.
Nguyen Thi Ngoc Lan, who sells women’s underwear to workers in Tan Tao Ward, Binh Tan District, complained that her inexpensive lingerie is also a target for thieves.
The situation is worst at night.
Stall owners at a night market next to Tan Tao Industrial Park have become easy prey to unfazed robbers and muggers.
Hoang Hai, a vegetable seller, had cash stolen twice and was mugged by thugs the third time.
He was so scared that he left the neighborhood.
Burglaries and robberies have also plagued crowded rented rooms.
Tran Van Thiem, who peddles hu tieu (stretchy rice noodles) and rents a room in Tan Tao Ward, recently had his old motorbike stolen.
Almost all of the tenants, including heavily-built young men, have had their homes burgled by these unwanted visitors at least once.
The thieves also stole into girls’ rooms to nab their smartphones which they were holding while dozing off.
A leader of the Binh Tan District Police Department revealed that they had deployed special units and adopted measures to curb criminal activity in the area.
Colonel Le Anh Tuan, chief of Thu Duc Police Department, urged victims to report their break-ins or burglaries instead of concealing them for fear of revenge attacks.
Meanwhile, Colonel Nguyen Sy Quang, chief of staff at the municipal Department of Police, said they have worked with local police to keep the crimes in check and ensure utmost security and safety for residents.