The Pennsylvania State Police warns Asian American business owners to secure their valuables and homes as investigators work to solve a series of robberies across the state.
Philadelphia City Council member David Oh told FOX29 that surges of crimes targeting Asian American restaurant owners are not new.
According to police, they believe the robbers are operating under Asian American stereotypes, such as keeping a large amount of money in their homes and being uncooperative with authorities.
“When it comes to a stereotype type that someone is vulnerable and susceptible, that typically leads to crime,” Oh said to FOX29.
Oh added that there is a growing fear in the community that robbery crimes could escalate into something much worse.
“Oftentimes, things go wrong and someone who is perpetrating crime ends up hurting someone or killing someone, and then they end up paying a price they weren’t ready to pay,” Oh said.
Colonel Robert Evanchick, commissioner of the Pennsylvania State Police, told ABC News that similar burglaries were reported across the commonwealth, with many of the crimes taking place in the northeastern part of the state.
“We want business owners to be aware of this trend and take preventive measures,” Evanchick said.
Corporal Brent Miller of the Pennsylvania State Police told FOX29 that the thieves follow the victims from work and disguise themselves with safety vests or as landscapers to conduct the crime.
“Burglars are using basically anything that they have in their disposal – whether that’s gathering, identifying information through registrations, using trackers on vehicles and to actually be follow restaurant owners to their residences,” Miller said.
Investigators added that the suspects work in teams – at least one person going into the homes, one working as a lookout, and another waiting in the getaway vehicle. CBS News reports that the burglaries are carried out quickly, only taking 30 minutes or less.
According to Yahoo News, police estimate that at least $1 million worth of cash and personal property, like jewelry, have been stolen across the state this year from Asian American homes.
CBS News reports that federal prosecutors indicted eight people last year as part of a burglary ring targeting Asian American restaurant owners.
They allege that the group robbed Asian American homes in multiple states, including Pennsylvania, Delaware, New Jersey, and New York.
According to ABC News, the Pennsylvania State Police offered a list of preventative measures for potential victims:
- Secure cash and valuables in your home.
- Be aware of individuals and vehicles in your neighborhood that aren’t usually there.
- Install motion sensor lights around your home.
- Consider having surveillance cameras and an alarm system installed.
- Keep your vehicle locked while at work and secure registration information.
- Be aware of anyone who might be following you home.
- Report suspicious activity to your local police department.
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