Monday, March 21, 2011


Ive seen it happen on a number of occasions, Ive heard of it happening numerous times. Two guys on a motorbike drive by a tourist and the pillion grabs their bag/camera as they innocently stroll the city. Its actually quite skillful and very fast; the thieves are obviously well trained.

On Saturday morning I was photographing a couple of nearly-weds outside Notre Dame Cathedral when it happened to me. My Canon 5d mkII and 16-35 lens snatched out my hand and gone in under a second. Anyone familiar with cameras will know how much I lost, but of course it could always have been worse, I wasnt injured. I've heard stories of people who lost their belongings but that was far from the worst of their problems after the offense.

I don't want to publically state how I feel about the authorities, suffice to say going to the police was futile. There were two frustrated and getting ignored tourists in the station when I arrived, and both just had their cameras snatched. I had no idea of the regularity of this crime, it appears it is not a daily problem but an hourly occurrence. Anywhere downtown is a danger zone but Ton Duc Thang, which runs along the river, is a hotspot area as it is a straight fast road for a quick getaway.

Of course bag snatching goes on all over the world but on 30th April the overcrowded Vietnamese gaols are releasing thousands of 'well-behaved' detainees back onto the streets and the already escalating problem is only going to get worse.

DONT carry a bag unless you absolutely need to.

DONT have a camera slung over your shoulder; if you're not shooting put it away in a bag and attach it to yourself as best as you can.

DONT wear jewelry or anything potentially removable that will attract attention to yourself.

Very sad times for a country that has always been considered one of the safest places to be.