BANGKOK, Thailand — In Vietnam, where the motorbike reigns supreme, traffic offenders have long eluded police checkpoints by gunning their motors and disappearing into the swarm of fellow bikers.
But future offenders be warned: from here on out, the cops may fire on sight. Not with standard-issue pistols, but with a "net gun" created in the Vietnam Defense Ministry's weapons design labs.
This concept originates in Thanh Hoa, an industrial province on the north-central coast where officials have struggled to nab illegal street racers.
Since 2011, cops have found success in tossing cheap fishing nets at bikers, who topple off when the nets become entangled in their wheels and jerk their ride to a stop. This solution proved so effective that, in 2012, provincial governor Trinh Van Chien proclaimed to the VietnamNet media outlet that the nets had broken up several racing gangs. "We focused and crushed the ringleaders," he said.
The new invention was inspired by an old police trick of throwing a fishing net over speeding bikers. Courtesy of Thanh Hoa Police.
Snaring bikes, however, requires a cop to toss the net while dashing behind a speeding offender. The Ministry of Defense-designed gun — which has a pistol grip fixed to a comically long cylinder — can fire the fishing net up to 15 meters, or 49 feet. Weapons engineers also experimented with spikes, oil and balls, according to Thanh Nien, but deemed those methods unsafe.
Motorbikes are extraordinarily common in Vietnam, which has one bike to every three people. Thanh Hoa's police have depicted young street-racing gangs as a public menace that compels residents to stay indoors at night.
Other provinces appear primed to get their own net guns. According to a police website, the prototype may be mass produced and distributed around the country.
See the police reel in racers in this news report: