The case has prompted local police to work with Interpol and other foreign police forces.
Five Colombians have been arrested in Hanoi over the last week and billions of VND worth of stolen property has been recovered as police broke up what is believed to be a multi-national theft ring operating across over 30 countries.
The arrests were carried out following a report on March 28 by a local man, identified only by his surname Pham, who said two foreigners had stolen VND1.6 billion ($70,000) from his car after he’d withdrawn it from a bank in Thanh Xuan District.
An initial investigation found that Pham was followed by four foreigners on two motorbikes after he left the bank, who snatched the money from the back seat of the car.
Looking back at previous cases, police noticed similarities between Pham’s case and another theft that took place on February 22 in Hoan Kiem District, Hanoi. Combined with a tip-off on the recent arrival of a Colombian crime group in Vietnam, police were able to narrow down the possible culpits to 11 foreigners.
Police later pinpointed the location of two members of the ring, later identified as Jersain Ladino Cardona, 51, and Carlos Alberto Lamprea Pena, 47, and arrested them at an apartment in Ciputra Hanoi in Bac Tu Liem District, where they found nearly VND800 million ($35,000).
Based on leads provided by the two suspects, police arrested Fabian Lucero Witches, 35, Jose Aureliano Rosas Pena, 55, and Rodricuez Cuervo Luis Alexander, 40, all of whom are from Colombia.
Under questioning, Fabian, who is the suspected ringleader, admitted that his group had conducted over 100 property thefts in Asia, Europe and South America since 2014. In Vietnam, the ring has committed 13 robberies, with the stolen goods said to have a retail value of nearly VND10 billion ($440,000), police said.
Police said they will work with Interpol and other foreign police forces to investigate the case.