Police arrest bank robbery suspect in southern Vietnam

By Huy Phong, Quoc Thang   May 7, 2017 | 11:10 am GMT+7

The masked robber escaped unopposed with over $100,000 after threatening bank employees with a gun.

Police in the southern province of Tra Vinh have arrested a 29-year-old man believed to be behind a recent bank robbery in the area.

Le Lam Hung, an engineer at the local Duyen Hai 3 Thermal Power Plant, was arrested at his workplace on Saturday afternoon.

Hung calmly answers the investigation teams questions. Photo courtesy of Tra Vinh police.

Hung calmly answers the investigators' questions. Photo courtesy of Tra Vinh police.

“Hung used a gun to threaten employees at a local branch of Vietcombank and stole over VND2 billion ($88,000) on April 26,” said police spokesman Colonel Huynh Van Khoi. Hung also has a leg deformity identical to that of the robber caught on CCTV footage, Colonel Khoi added.

At the station, Hung confessed to the crime. He claimed he had been deep in debt due to football betting, which led to his decision to rob a bank.

Hung said the gun he used during the robbery was an airsoft gun he had bought for VND500,000 ($22), while the motorbike he escaped on had been borrowed from a friend. After the heist, he disposed of the gun, the bags and the clothes he had been wearing, while the motorbike was returned to the friend.

Hung used VND1.5 billion ($66,000) to pay off his debt and hid the rest at his workplace. Afterwards, he continued to go to work as usual while keeping a constant eye on the police investigation.

The money hidden by Hung at his workplace. Photo courtesy of Tra Vinh police.

The money hidden by Hung at his workplace. Photo courtesy of Tra Vinh police.

“When we arrested him, Hung seemed surprised and claimed we had arrested the wrong person. However, when faced with the evidence against him, he confessed,” said one police officer.

After an extensive search, police found $35,900 and about VND100 million ($4,400) in cash, together with more evidence against Hung.

On April 26, a man with his head and face covered arrived at a branch of Vietcombank in Tra Vinh Province driving a motorbike with no license plate. He pulled out a gun and ordered the bank's employees to fill the two bags he was carrying with cash while threatening to shoot anyone who didn't comply. He then drove off on the motorbike with the cash without facing any resistance.

During the 90-second robbery he managed to get away with VND1.58 billion ($69,800) and $35,900. Vietcombank was covered by insurance and did not suffer financially.

Bank robberies are rare in Vietnam and usually involve a single individual and small amounts of cash. Robbers are quickly hunted down by police.