A group of thieves have been caught on camera stealing from multiple people at a bus stop in an outlying district of Ho Chi Minh City.
Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper reporters went undercover at a bus station in Thu Duc District for days this month after several readers reported being pickpocketed when traveling along bus routes passing this stop.
The busy bus stop, located just opposite the Suoi Tien Theme Park in District 9, serves nine operational bus routes that mainly transport students to and from nearby university campuses.
On Monday morning, the reporters spotted two middle-aged men, one of whom carried a plastic bag containing some objects while the other wore a satchel.
They stood among a small crowd of commuters waiting for the bus, acting as if they did not know each other.
Their elaborate scheme began when a bus arrived.
After targeting an elderly woman, one of the men stood in front of her, blocking the entrance to the bus while the other stayed behind the woman and stole the victim’s phone from her coat pocket.
The pickpocket used his plastic bag to shield the crime from the view of nearby bus riders.
|A pickpocket passes a stolen phone to his partner. Photo: Minh Hoa / Tuoi Tre|
After taking the device, he secretly passed it to his partner, who had now moved away from the bus entrance, before they both walked away with the stolen phone.
The entire crime took only 20 seconds, as seen in footage filmed by the Tuoi Tre reporters.
The evidence has been submitted to the city’s public transport management center.
The agency, in coordination with police officers, is now looking for the female victim to assist the investigation.
|Q.C. Nhan (C), a member of a pickpocket gang in Ho Chi Minh City. Photo: Minh Hoa / Tuoi Tre|
The Tuoi Tre probe also revealed that the same men employed similar tactics to steal belongings from a woman and a university student on Saturday and Sunday morning.
One of the men has been identified as Q.C. Nhan, 47, a face familiar to the local police as he was already fined for pickpocketing in January.
Nhan’s gang also consists of about two other members who are often in charge of keeping watch and alerting others when law enforcers arrive.
Some bus drivers and conductors along this route said they have become quite familiar with these men.
|Two members of a pickpocket gang in Ho Chi Minh City hunt for prey at a bus stop in Thu Duc District, Ho Chi Minh City. Photo: Minh Hoa / Tuoi Tre|
They did not dare to cross these criminals for fear of being targeted for revenge attacks.
A female conductor recalled being threatened by the men.
“We can but constantly remind our passengers to pay close attention to their valuables,” a bus driver stated.
Nguyen Ngoc Tuong, deputy head of the public transport management center, has asked Tuoi Tre to provide all information on the pickpockets so that they could work with the local police to have the issue handled.