The gang stole between four and six cats each night for two years, police in Vinh City said on Friday. They sold a kilogram of cat for $US3, and used the money to play online games, police said.

Although dog thefts are common in Vietnam, this is the first time a group of people have been arrested for stealing such a large number of cats.

The head of the gang, 26-year-old Nguyen Duc Dung, told police they caught the animals by baiting traps with pieces of fish and leaving them outside homes where they knew people kept cats.

Angry locals alerted the police after their pets continued to go missing. The men were caught red-handed as they tried to catch more cats.

Police are preparing a charge of stealing property, which carries a maximum sentence of seven years in prison.

Cat meat is a popular delicacy in some parts of Vietnam, usually eaten barbecued as a snack and served with rice wine.

Australian Associated Press - July 05, 2013