Foreign travelers in Hanoi apprehensive of theft

Published:  13:55 Wednesday - May 15, 2013

Foreign travelers in Hanoi apprehensive of theft

Hanoians and Vietnamese take pride of their home country which is believed the peaceful and safe destination.

However, a lot of foreign travelers complained they had their wallets and identification papers stolen when taking a stroll in the ancient streets of Hanoi. Overcharging foreign travelers tarnish Vietnam’s image The Hoan Kiem Lake area at the center of Hanoi is the “no-vendor zone,” but there are still many passers-by vendors.

The existence of the vendors lends a hand to the pickpockets to “perform their actions.” The pickpockets may disguise themselves as the vendors, trying to persuade unwitting tourists to buy some souvenirs and rip them off. Thai TTR Weekly recently published an article titled “Stealth of hand in Old Hanoi” saying that foreign travelers had their assets stolen by the vendors.

Some months ago, the story about a Scottish woman who lost her passport published on local newspapers raised a wave of anger among Hanoians. The woman cried and shouted in English that she needed a help because she lost the passport, promising to reward the people who give back her passport or the people who can show her how to get it back. The Scottish traveler said she knew a group of women stole the passport, but she could not talk to them because she could not speak Vietnamese.

The people, who stood around the woman, did not give support or advices. Koji Tanabe, a Japanese national, was so astonished when a Vietnamese man rushed into him and embraced him. And while the Japanese young man still felt astonished, the Vietnamese man had enough time to steal a mobile phone worth VND4 million. Chin Umi and her friend, Jo Yuongmi from South Korea, were going to buy tickets to a water puppetry show when a Vietnamese man rifled their bag, running away with an iPhone 4S.

Luckily enough, the local police caught the pickpocket and returned the mobile phone to the travelers. In the ancient capital city of Hue, the local police reportedly have caught a gang of men who lived on stealing foreign tourists’ assets. A French traveler reported to the local police that he had euro600, or VND18 million, picked when he was walking on Chu Van An Street in Hue City.

After paying money for some postcards that some vendors offered, the traveler discovered that his money was stolen. With the same trick, the same men successfully picked $91 from a foreign traveler on Pham Ngu Lao Street some weeks before. A report of the HCM City Police showed that in 2011 alone, 56 robbery cases took place, 61 percent of which occurred in district 1, the area where there were most travelers. This did not include the unsuccessful robbery cases and unreported cases. Ironically, pickpockets turned up even in the places which were protected by security guards.

At the Hue Festival 2012, the Argentina Ambassador had his mobile phone picked. The pickpocket stood between the ambassador and his wife with one hand pretending to take pictures and the other hands picking the phone. Luckily, the behavior of stealing mobile phone was discovered by the Venezuelan ambassador who was trying to take pictures of the festivals. The pickpocket was later sentenced to 2-year jail for the behavior of stealing others’ assets. Vietnamese, who have been well known as hospitable and friendly, feel a worry that the pickpockets would spoil the image of Vietnam as a friendly destination. Competent agencies have ordered the police and district authorities to do everything they can to crack down on street vendors who rip off foreign tourists. 


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