Hanoi vendors jailed for robbing Italian tourist

By Viet Dung   November 26, 2018 | 05:11 pm PT
A Hanoi court Monday sentenced two Vietnamese women to six months in prison each for stealing $300 from an Italian man.

Nguyen Thi Nga, 20, and Tao Thi Thuan, 31, who sold various souvenir items like postcards and hand fans in the Old Quarter area near the Hoan Kiem (Sword) Lake, were arrested in August.

Police found them splitting the loot, VND7 million ($300) in cash, among themselves after pilfering an Italian’s wallet.

According to the indictment, Chiaverini Sergio and his wife were walking around the Hoan Kiem Lake when Nga approached them and requested them to buy the items. However, the Italian couple refused.

Later, the two pickpockets saw Sergio buying three postcards from another woman for VND150,000 ($6.4). Thuan went up and harassed the man, distracting him, while Nga quickly took the wallet out of his handbag and fled.

Nguyen Thi Nga (L) and Tao Thi Thuan. Photo courtesy of Hanoi Police

Nguyen Thi Nga (L) and Tao Thi Thuan. Photo courtesy of Hanoi Police

After receiving a report from the Italian man that his wallet had been stolen by the street vendors, police officers arrested the women while they were splitting up the stolen money.

The area around Hoan Kiem Lake, one of the long-standing symbols and most popular tourist destinations in the capital, has been tarnished by petty crimes that show no signs of abating.

Last month, Hanoi police detained nine street gang members who were ripping off foreign tourists around the lake.

Police said the group, six men and three women with no stable jobs, gathered around the tourist hotspot to polish shoes and sell snacks, but their modus operandi was to coerce unsuspecting foreigners and charge them exorbitant amounts.

Hanoi has welcomed 4.3 million foreign visitors in the first nine months of this year, up 20 percent from a year ago, according to official statistics from the city's tourism department.

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