Hanoi rocked as dog thefts turn deadly

Dognapping has taken a deadly turn in Vietnam, as gangs of professional thieves roam the streets in search of victims.

Nguyen Van Cuong, a resident of Hanoi, heard his neighbour’s cries for help after his dog had been snatched up by two thieves on a motor bike. As the pair gave chase, the criminals fended them off by throwing bricks. Unfortunately, one struck an innocent bystander, and killed him.

Tran The Thieu, a police chief in the province of Nghe An, said of the spate of thefts:

“Dog thieves are getting more aggressive — they steal villagers’ dogs in broad daylight.”

“People are very angry to see their dogs stolen and dog thieves are rarely arrested.”

In fact, the thieves haven’t had it all their own way. Mobs have formed to protect their pets, and have clubbed and even burned captured bandits to death.

The thefts have been attributed to dogs being considered a delicacy in many parts of Vietnam, with the demand for barbecued dog increasing before each new moon due to its association with good luck.

As lots of dogs roam free, they have become the number one target for thieves. A live dog can command £3.88 ($6) per kilo from many restaurants in Hanoi. This means that a dog weighing 20 kilos can more than the monthly salary of the average worker in Vietnam.

Although lots of Vietnamese use their dogs to guard property, they are not treated as a family member as they are in the west, and are usually not named. Even so, they feel forced to take matters into their own hands due to dissatisfaction with the way the crime wave has been handled by officials.

Chief Thieu confirms this:

“Residents say the police just fine these thieves and let them go.”

“It’s true. A thief only faces criminal charges when the property involved is worth at least 2 million dong (£62). A dog is much cheaper than that and the thief is only fined for the attempted theft.”