Five suspects arrested for vandalizing Saigon pho shop

By Quoc Thang   August 5, 2019 | 06:59 am PT
Five suspects arrested for vandalizing Saigon pho shop
A CCTV footage captures three men breaking into Linh's restaurant and carrying out vandalism attacks.
HCMC police Monday detained five male suspects for a series of ‘terrorizing’ attacks on a popular pho restaurant.

Pho Hoa, famous in Saigon for its beef noodle soup, the most iconic of Vietnamese dishes, suffered eight attacks of vandalism in July, with a group of men throwing red paint, pig entrails and shrimp paste at the restaurant. 

The attacks were carried out both during opening hours and at night when the restaurant on Pasteur Street in District 3, a 15-minute drive from Ben Thanh Market, had already closed, according to a report filed with the police by its owner Pham Tung Linh. The acts were also captured by CCTV cameras.

The repeated vandalism threatened and affected customers, staff and Linh’s family members, forcing the restaurant owner to announce a temporary shutdown "for interior construction" on August 1.

Earlier media reports have said that the vandals wanted to pressurize Linh into repaying overdue debts of his his brother-in-law Tran Anh Tuan, who was also held Monday on suspicion of using fake papers to mortgage and borrow money from creditors.

The reports had also said that after Tuan had fled from his house without paying his debts, some loan sharks had visited the restaurant and threatened the owner of ‘terrorizing’ attacks.

Pham Phong Phu, one of Tuan’s business partners, was among the arrestees. Police said that the remaining four suspects had followed Phu's orders to vandalize the restaurant.

Phu has allegedly admitted to the police that he had ordered his henchmen to damage Linh’s restaurant after Tuan failed to repay his debts. Tuan and Phu were partners trading in automobiles and real estate.

Financial activities conducted by unregulated institutions or under unregulated conditions have been expanding nationwide and do not stop at cities but are spreading to rural and remote areas, said Major General Luong Tam Quang, office chief of the Ministry of Public Security.

Preliminary statistics from the ministry show that more than 7,600 loan-related crimes have been recorded in Vietnam in the last four years, with both lenders and borrowers being affected.

Of the total, 56 were murder cases and the rest included intentionally inflicting injury, robberies, seizure of properties and assets using force, fraud and scams.

Established in the late 1960s, Pho Hoa is one of the most popular restaurants in the city, especially among foreign visitors to the southern metropolis. It has been awarded the Certificate of Excellence by travel website TripAdvisor each year since 2015 and its average rating is 4.5/5 based on over 1,000 reviews on the site.

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