A self-appointed group of Vietnamese men in Ho Chi Minh City have acted as vigilantes in catching street criminals at night over the past many months in an effort to bring a greater sense of safety to locals.
The Hoc Mon Anti-crime Youth Club, founded in October 2017, consists of ten members pursuing various jobs in, for instance, mechanics, building, vehicle repair and factory work during daytime.
On a nightly basis they ride their own motorcycles along the streets of Hoc Mon, Ho Chi Minh City’s suburban district, while keeping an alert eye on suspicious attempts of robbing a rider or pedestrian.
The men are willing to enter local criminal hot spots to catch thieves and robbers, and also cooperate with police to handle urgent criminal cases.
The group members usually travel together and maintain between them a certain distance so that they can give opportune mutual help.
They chip in their money to cover the expenses on gas and tools such as protective clothing, gloves, and helmets.
Quick response is made when they receive calls from residents in the area via the club's hotline.
They have so far successfully dealt with over 30 robberies and offered help in 25 accidents.
Each member is armed with self-defense techniques taught by the group’s leader, Ngo Thanh Quang, who is also an instructor in Taekwondo – a Korean martial art commonly practiced in Vietnam.
He showed the group different moves in getting the upper hand over a criminal so that an arrest can be made.
“We must identify a criminal correctly, based on available evidence, and have some ways to control him. The group is always ready to assisst people who have been robbed or need help,” he said.
The vigilantes’ families have sometimes advised them against patrolling at night but they argued that the cause is worth furthering.
“We help people with all our heart. That’s why we try to strike a balance between family and crime suppression committments. Each member regards another as a family member. If you’re sincere in your intention of helping people, you’ve got to push for it and fear nothing,” Quang said.
Vo Chien Thang, police chief in Hoc Mon, considers the club as an exemple in unofficial local anti-crime initiatives and said that more similar groups are encouraged to be formed for the time to come.
Police officers will train the Hoc Mon Anti-crime Youth Club in more skills, Thang added.