Helping the Cops Chase Down the Cowboys in Vietnam!
Yes, it is very true. I and my younger Vietnamese friend, a tiny woman, helped the police one year capture members of a gang who were from a northern city in Vietnam called Vinh. They had traveled from Vinh down south to Dong Hoi to rob people for weeks. Well actually… that is until we helped put a stop to them-ha!
I’ll have to backtrack a little and help explain the term cowboy. When I mentioned the term recently to a few of my friends from Hanoi, they didn’t seem to be familiar with it. In other areas of Vietnam I’ve heard the term quite a bit. My aunts even joke around stating that sometimes I act a little wild just like a cowboy. Cowboy has been used to refer to people in Vietnam who are a little wild and or cause trouble especially a crime. I have no idea how this term came about, but this is what I’ve been told.
As many of you know I just returned from a trip to Vietnam and Cambodia. The incident in capturing the cowboys took place on a previous trip. However, I wanted to wait until after I returned home to share this story with you once my husband knew I was actually home safe. So now I will tell you the story and how it all went down.
During this particular trip I had injured my foot quite severely while in Cambodia before heading back into Vietnam. I went directly to my friend’s house in Dong Hoi and unfortunately most of my time there was laid out on the couch trying to help my foot start to heal. After about a week I felt OK enough to get out of the house to have my friend show me around her town on her motorbike. It was my last day there before I would head to Danang.
At one point my friend wanted to stop at a jewelry store, as many Vietnamese do, to borrow money or do a currency exchange. My friend parked her bike while I decided to wait with my crutches. Next thing I know about six people including a woman came toward me and motioned me to move my legs to the other side of the bike. After doing so they then told me to move my legs again as they drew in even closer. I knew something was up. I looked down and saw the key in the ignition and thought they must want to steal the bike. I grabbed the keys and as quickly as I could I backed off the bike and moved backward toward the sidewalk and shops. They saw me take the key, but did not pursue me. Instead they crowded around the bike even more to the point where I couldn’t even see it. I couldn’t tell what they were doing, but all of a sudden my friend yells out as she is running toward us- oh my god, do they have my wallet?
Wallet? What wallet? I didn’t know, although it was locked up, that she had left a wallet with me on the bike. I realized in that moment that when they had crowded earlier around the bike, they were cutting the seat open to get to her wallet. I yelled out to my friend that they definitely had her wallet. Shortly after a woman who was part of the gang walked past me and smacked me in the arm while mumbling curse words under her breath. She jumped on a bike and two other men jumped on the same bike with her, while a couple of others were able to get away on another bike.
My friend was able to catch up to the second bike before they could take off. She grabbed the guy sitting on the back of the seat, yelling at and punching him. It was difficult for them to get away with three people sitting tightly together on the bike. The driver managed to take off anyway, but the guy sitting on the very back fell off. He was able to get loose of my friend’s grip and stole another person’s bike from them. He was in such a panic that he ended up crashing right into another woman on her bike coming from the other direction. There was a cop across the street who was looking toward our direction when this incident started. He seem to wonder along with everyone else what all the fuss was about. However, he just thought people were in an argument. He had no idea someone was being robbed.
After a while the regular citizens figured out what was going on not only in our current situation, but also started to realize these were the same people who had been robbing them for weeks! The word seem to spread quickly from there and all kinds of people from various directions came running out to try to help us catch the one guy after he had crashed on the bike. The same officer from earlier also figured out that it was way more than just an argument and tried to help capture the guy as well. In fact, when the police officer was first able to grab ahold of the robber, the guy threatened the officer telling him he would beat him up. He ended up getting loose from the officer, but the community members charged toward the guy and were able to finally help capture him.
The robber was brought into the police station which was across the street from where the incident first took place. We were asked to come in and fill out a report. While we were doing so, there were at least another 5-8 people who came in to fill out reports and left them in the office we were sitting in. A few of the people filling out the reports came from a block or two over from where all the commotion had started. This is how fast the word got out about the incident.
The police ended up finding 30 wallets just on the guy they had captured. I’m not sure if they ever caught up with the other gang members. The community was really relieved to finally have this case solved. The police officer even stated that he thought it was fate that my friend and I were a part of this situation and were able to help bring these guys down. Too funny- us gals, younger than what we look, not very big people to begin with, were the very ones who were able to help take down these cowboys-ha! Truth- they actually didn’t know who they were dealing with in my friend and me. A person should never judge by outward appearances. The two of us are known, by the people who actually do know us, as being quite spunky. Some may say feisty-ha!
So I just came from Cambodia with a major injury, an injury that was serious enough to cause me to have a seizure. I start to recuperate a bit and then this incident takes place. After this incident while visiting my family, my cousin and I almost crashed on her bike! The year this all took place was around Tet, the major New Year celebration. It happened to be the year of the cat. I joke that this is what must have carried me through. A cat has nine lives you know. I used up more than half on these three incidents alone and had just enough left to finally get me home safely.
So that’s my story and I’m sticking to it!
Next posts coming will be from this 2014 trip.