New regulations to curb helmet snatching menace

A new circular, making it mandatory for motorbike drivers to wear helmets with an authorised stamp marking, has been jointly issued by the Ministries of Science and Technology, Industry and Trade, Public Security, and Transport.

Parking lots of supermarkets become the best place for thieves to snatch helmets. (Photo: SGGP)

Meanwhile, helmet thieves flourish and even get away with it, resulting in much resentment amongst the public. Although a wrongful act, helmet snatchers cannot be punished according to current laws.

Tran Van Dong, a resident of District 3 in Ho Chi Minh City, said that helmet snatchers stole two high-quality and expensive helmets belonging to him within just two days. Because his company does not have a parking lot, he usually has to leave his motorbike at a specific corner of a supermarket nearby.

So far he felt secure leaving his helmet with his motorbike. But one day his helmet costing more than VND500,000 disappeared without trace. Hence, he had to buy a cheap temporary helmet to travel back home, and enroute he stopped and purchased another for nearly VND600,000. The next day, his new helmet was once again stolen outside Hung Vuong Parkson Department Store.

“I don’t want to use cheap helmets to deal with traffic police. But as my expensive helmets keep getting stolen, I have no choice,” he resented.

Large department stores always offer helmet keeping services in their parking lots at the same price as a motorbike. However, as the helmet service costs an extra VND3,000-5,000, most people are accustomed to leaving their helmets with their motorbikes, creating favourable conditions for snatchers. Some people are more careful and lock their helmets under the saddle, but helmets still get stolen.

Tran Kim Quy, an employee at a Communications Company in District 1, said that thieves stole her helmet costing more than VND400,000 by cutting its chinstrap after she left her motorbike at the parking lot by the side of the Ho Chi Minh City Youth Culture House. After losing two expensive helmets, Quy gave up on high-quality helmets and switched to using helmets priced around VND30,000.

“It doesn’t make sense carrying the helmet with me everywhere. Besides, not every parking lot offers to keep helmets. I’d rather use cheap helmets so that I don’t regret if it is stolen,” she groaned.

Employees at the parking lot near April 30 Park said that helmet snatching occurs every day. Of which, the most stolen helmets are made-in-Thailand, Son, flip-up helmets or new and eye-catching ones.

The number of helmet snatching cases in Ho Chi Minh City during a single has not been counted. However, with an average price of VND200,000-500,000 for a good helmet, the total value of lost helmets is fairly huge.

This situation upset citizens as their lives will be threatened for using sub-standard helmets if they unfortunately meet with a traffic accident.

An employee of the Voluntary Youth Public Benefit Service Company said that he caught a snatcher red-handed at Trung Vuong Hospital in District 10. But when he took the person to the local police station, he was completely dumbfounded as the police told him to release the snatcher as the value of the object was not large enough to punish the stealer.

The current laws stipulate that first time offenders will not be charged if the value of the stolen item is less than VND2 million. However, a thieve not yet cleared of  previous offenses, will be sentenced up to three years on probation or six months to three years in custody.

Despite the fact that laws are made to protect against offences, lawmakers unintentionally provided a loophole for people to steal other people’s helmets, knowing full well they will walk away scot free.

Thus, such laws should be amended, so as to do away with the helmet snatching menace as soon as the new circular takes effect.

By Ai Chan, Mai Huong – Translated by Thuy Doan

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