City apartments see rash of burglaries
  • | Tuoi tre | June 16, 2011 07:54 PM

One afternoon early last month a resident of Kien Thanh Apartments in Ho Chi Minh’s District 6 rushed back home after being informed about a break-in at her house.

Nguyen Huu Thai in Ha Kieu apartment building in Go Vap district has to permanently lock his motorbike with a big chain though they are placed in his house - Photo: Tuoi Tre

When she stepped into her apartment, she found things strewn all over and a laptop worth VND15 million (US$730) and some jewels and cosmetics gone.

Nga, the victim, said: “After hearing about recent burglaries, I had installed a padlock but still could not prevent [the burglary].”

At Kien Thanh, many residents expressed concern about burglaries and wondered if they would become a victim some day.

Ha, owner of Apartment 807C, and his wife are civil servants who work all day long. They bought the apartment believing the security at the building would be good. But it has turned out to be a vain hope since it is regularly burgled.

“Last month I arrived home one day and found the door wide open. I immediately checked and saw things were in disorder.

“Fortunately, nothing was stolen. Perhaps, they saw us come back and left.”

Oanh, who lives next door, looked nervous because her husband works outside while she and her child remain at home. Their apartment was burgled three times in just one month.

Recently she lost all her expensive shoes, but just a few days later thieves broke in again and took away a cabinet with all her new footwear.

The third time she went into the kitchen only to find that a thief had stolen a brand-new mattress from the living room. Since burglars seem to break into her apartment easily, she fears for the safety of herself and her child.

Le Van Tung, head of the 114 residents’ committee at Kien Thanh, showed reporters some of the apartments burgled recently. The locks broken by thieves had been welded back but no one was sure if they had become any safer.

“Burglaries happen frequently. We tell the security guards about every case but nothing has happened.”

At Tay Thanh Apartments in Tan Phu District too, many people complained about burglaries. Le Van Du, who lives in Block I, said his expensive ornamental trees had been stolen. He showed the chains he had put around the trees to secure them.

After Tet (Lunar New Year) last February, six trees disappeared one by one despite being chained. Two others had been cut in many places since the burglars could not remove them.

Late last month there was a burglary at Nhieu Loc C Apartment in Tan Phu District. Vo Ba Thinh, the victim, was still upset about the break-in three weeks earlier. He had locked the door and gone out but the thieves broke in and stole a laptop, two cell phones, and VND70 million (USD3,400) in cash.

Cua, an employee at the apartment block parking lot, said a similar burglary had occurred a month earlier.

To keep away burglars, many residents at Nhieu Loc C have fitted additional locks on their doors.

Rape threat

Trang, who lives alone in an apartment in Kien Thanh, still looks terrified. One day in late March, after she had left for university, thieves destroyed the lock brackets in her front door with acid and broke in to steal VND2 million in cash and some expensive cosmetics.

Le Van Tung in Kien Thanh apartment building in district 6 shows a door lock broken by thefts (Photo: Tuoi Tre)

A few days later a man with a rough voice called her and said: “If you inform the police, do not go to school this Monday. I will rape you!”

Ngoc, Trang’s mother, became worried for her daughter and came to live with her. The following night, Ngoc answered the phone when a caller threatened to “take care” of Trang if she reported to the police.

“My daughter is going to take exams. But she is very disturbed after the burglary and rape threats.”

At Ha Kieu Apartments in Go Vap District, Quach Ngoc Phung, head of the Block A residents’ committee, said: “Last month my daughter’s boyfriend came for a visit and parked his SH scooter in the front porch, just two meters from our dining table.

“A few minutes later my husband saw a man trying to break the scooter’s lock. He rushed out, and they jumped on their motorbike and fled.”

Phung also said she witnessed a robbery in the block in March. “Two guys on a motorbike approached Quyen (a neighbor) when she was standing in front of her house, and snatched her gold chain so fast that the victim could not call out for help.”

Le Thi My Hang, head of the 52 residents’ committee at Ha Kieu, said: “On the morning of June 3, when I went home and opened the door, a black figure ran out into the living room [from inside]. Hearing me shout for help, the thief threw the laptop down and escaped. I discovered my purse containing VND350,000, my motorbike registration certificate, me driving license, and an ATM card were gone.”

Burglars targeting apartments seem to know about the daily routines there and the way around the block. They usually act at 7-10 am and 1-4 pm when few people use the stairs.

Residents at many apartment buildings think thieves come round to case the place, pretending to look for people, hang around at nearby cafes for long hours to observe each apartment, or even rent a room for a few months before acting.

Lieutenant-Colonel Pham Van Suu, a senior police officer in Go Vap District’s Ward 5, said many thieves and drug addicts were arrested recently at Ha Kieu and admitted the security was bad there.

“The police will improve security in the area and keep tabs on people staying temporarily and residents who are away to ensure security,” he said.

Major Ha Van Mieng, a senior officer at the Ward 13 Public Security Agency in District 6, confirmed there had been burglaries recently at Kien Thanh, but said its security was improved by having two more guards patrol it during the day.

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