A Vietnam court on Tuesday sentenced two men to six months each in prison for “publicly appropriating property” after they stole hundreds of beer cans dropped from a troubled truck late last year.
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The two convicts – Tran Anh Cuong, 30, and Dinh Van Vinh, 47 – admitted their wrongdoings and showed their repentance at the trial in Dong Nai Province, located in the southern region.
According to the indictment, on December 4, 2013, Tran Kim Hau drove a truck with 1,450 cans of beer aboard worth about VND370 million (US$17,419) on National Highway 1A en route from Ho Chi Minh City to Binh Thuan Province in the central region.
When the truck was traveling near the Tam Hiep roundabout in Bien Hoa City, Dong Nai’s provincial capital, Hau lost the brakes and swiftly changed direction to avoid a possible accident, causing hundreds of beer cans to pour out of the truck into the street.
After that, a large number of local people rushed to loot the truck, ignoring the desperate cries of the poor driver.
Cuong and Vinh took away 240 beer cans and 12 beer bottles worth nearly VND3 million ($141) on a delivery tricycle, according to court documents.
The duo shared some of the stolen beer with their families and sold the rest at VND360,000 ($17).
The court said there were 12 people involved in the beer truck looting. However, only Vinh and Cuong were indicted while the 10 others received cash fines or warnings because the items they thieved were valued less than VND2 million ($94), which is the threshold for criminal charges under Vietnamese law.
Hau, the driver, showed his sympathy for Cuong and Vinh and appealed for clemency for the two. “I plead with the judge to give them the lightest possible punishment so they can return home soon and support their families,” Hau said at the trial.
“They live in rented homes and earn a hard livelihood like I do,” he added.
Earlier reports said a large number of people happily grabbed scores of beer cans dropped from the truck instead of helping the driver clean up the mess.
As shown in the footage shot by a passer-by, the looters nearly fought each other to steal undamaged beer cartons. Some hastily put the scattered cans into plastic bags. Others even deployed cargo motorbikes to carry the beer away.
No one bothered to help the desperate driver. Some even threatened to beat him when he tried to prevent them from stealing his beer.
Footage shot by a passer-by shows people stealing beer cans falling from a truck near the Tan Hiep roundabout in Dong Nai Province on December 4, 2013.