A Hanoi court on Wednesday sentenced five Colombian men to multiple years in prison for stealing valuables from local car drivers last year.
The ringleader, Fabian Lucero Wilches, was given a ten-year sentence, while his accomplices, Jersain Ladino Cardona, Jose Aureliano Rosas Pena, Carlos Alberto lamprea Pena and Luis Alexander Rodriguez Cuevro, received jail terms from seven to twelve years.
The men knew each other during their trips in Cambodia and Laos in 2017, and decided to move to Vietnam in February the same year, according to court documents.
The Colombian nationals then turned themselves into a gang of thieves, with the main tactic of shadowing Vietnamese people who traveled by car to withdraw money from banks, gold shops or currency exchange locations.
The thieves would try to puncture the tire of the victim’s car and steal their possessions when the driver was busy making the repair.
The foreigners successfully performed two thefts in this fashion in Vietnam, according to police.
In February 2017, the men were hunting for victims around Hoan Kiem District in Hanoi on two motorbikes, when they spotted 36-year-old Nguyen Van Ngoc, who was going to visit a currency exchange shop.
As Ngoc left the shop in his car, the thieves managed to flatten one of his tires and eventually fled with more than VND100 million (US$4,400) and £10,000 ($14,200) in cash, and 3 taels of gold bullion, while the victim was replacing the damaged tire. (1 tael = 37.5 grams)
In March 2017, they applied the same trick to steal VND1.6 billion ($70,400) from local resident Pham Binh Minh, shortly after he left a bank in the capital.
The Colombians said that they had carried out thefts with a similar method in many other countries.