From left: Banh Van Thang and Tran Duc Lap. Photo courtesy of Hanoi Police.

A pair of Vietnamese men have been jailed for stealing a dog in Hanoi.

In March 2017, Banh Van Thang, 37, convinced Tran Duc Lap, 29, to help him steal dogs, VN Express reported. According to the indictment, the two drove around Tay Ho District on a motorcycle and stole an expatriate woman’s dog.

The two were soon apprehended and on November 9, a court in Hanoi sentenced Thang to 40 months in prison and Lap was given a three-year sentence. In addition, the reported buyer of the stolen dog, 22-year-old Nguyen Dac Luyen, was given a suspended one-year jail term.

Until recently, the theft of dogs in Vietnam was rarely labelled as criminal, with stolen pets having to be worth more than VND2 million (US$86) for police to take action. Most stolen pets end up being butchered in restaurants.

Hanoi government now urges residents to stop consuming cat and dog meat to help reform the city’s reputation.