Police officers are detaining a man for forcibly entering and hiding the whole Friday night inside the Saigon Notre-Dame Basilica, one of Ho Chi Minh City’s icons and tourist attractions.
Lieutenant Colonel Le Duc Thuan, head of the Ben Nghe Ward police station in District 1, said on Saturday that they have taken Nguyen Van Hien, 32, into custody for breaking into the cathedral, located in the downtown area, the preceding night.
Around 9:00 pm that night, the Ben Nghe police were informed by the cathedral’s parish priest that its doors were locked from the inside.
Police officers besieged the grand church and made their way inside through a ventilatory shaft.
The inspection, which lasted until 4:00 the following morning, however, failed to detect any intruder or loss of property.
According to Lt. Col. Thuan, police and the parish priest then noticed that a number of items were muddled up, but they were not sure whether the mess was caused during a break-in or by a cathedral janitor who had inadvertently done so.
Police officers are seen examining locked doors to the Saigon Notre-Dame Cathedral, located in downtown Ho Chi Minh City.
Around 10:45 the same morning, as parishioners conducted another examination, they spotted Hien taking cover in a pigeon coop near the roof.
Police were immediately alerted and arrived at the scene to nab him.
Hien, who resides in Buon Ma Thuot City, which is the heart of the Central Highlands province of Dak Lak, said at the police station that he had worked as a kitchen assistant for some restaurants before living as a vagrant.
Short on money for a trip back to his hometown, the man, who has no previous criminal record, admitted he had schemed the break-in to pinch parishioners’ donated money.
After scaling the fence on the sideways of the cathedral to get inside, Hien locked the doors and rummaged through things there but found nothing.
He then took a rest and washed his clothes right in the church’s warehouse.
Hien then felt hungry and was about to prepare instant noodles for a snack when he noticed police officers breaking their way into the church.
The man hid in the rooftop pigeon cage until he was busted.
The District 1 police are further investigating the case.