A 23-year-old man in southern Vietnam who dressed in drag to offer erotic massage to male customers was arrested after attempting to snatch money from a man at a local café who refused to use his service.

Police officers in Cai Lay, an outlying district in the Mekong Delta province of Tien Giang, said they are detaining Pham Le Truong Canh, 23 and his accomplice Ngo Van Hieu, 24, both from the province, on charges of robbery.

A preliminary investigation showed that Canh usually dressed up as a woman to provide erotic massage service to customers at disguised cafés in the province.

On Wednesday evening, Canh and a woman approached a man who was having a drink at an unnamed café in Phu An Commune, Cai Lay District to offer their illicit service.

The man rejected their offer and wanted to pay for his drink so that he could leave.

Canh then pretended to bump into the man in an attempt to snatch his money. However, the man caught him in the act and called on others to help arrest the snatcher.

Seeing his accomplice in trouble, Hieu obstructed the man in order to help Canh flee.

At the same time, district police officers who were patrolling the area were alerted by the scene and moved to catch the duo on the spot.

Erotic massage services are illegal in Vietnam. Owners of facilities offering such services can face a fine ranging from VND20 million (US$860) to VND30 million ($1,290), according to a 2013 government directive.

Ngo Van Hieu, 23, is held in police custody for trying to help an accomplice, Pham Le Truong Canh, flee after being caught red-handed trying to steal money from a male coffee drinker in Cai Lay District, Tien Giang Province, Vietnam. Photo: Le Hoai / Tuoi Tre
Ngo Van Hieu, 23, is held in police custody for trying to help an accomplice, Pham Le Truong Canh, flee after being caught red-handed trying to steal money from a male coffee drinker in Cai Lay District, Tien Giang Province, Vietnam. Photo: Le Hoai / Tuoi Tre

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