The Pennsylvania State Police is investigating a series of residential burglaries targeting Asian American restaurant owners. To date, nearly a million dollars in cash and personal property have been stolen from the homes of Asian Americans who own Chinese food restaurants throughout the state.
“While many of these crimes occurred in the northeastern part of the state, similar burglaries have been reported across the commonwealth,” said Colonel Robert Evanchick, commissioner of the Pennsylvania State Police. “We want business owners to be aware of this trend and take preventive measures.”
The actors appear to operate as a team, with one person acting as a lookout while one or two enter the home, primarily taking cash and jewelry. Another team member waits in a getaway vehicle.
Investigators believe the burglars watch the houses they target, observing the activity patterns of residents to determine when the home will be unoccupied. They usually disguise themselves, sometimes by wearing yellow safety vests or posing as landscapers. The burglaries are carried out quickly, with the actors in the residence for 30 minutes or less.
These types of crimes are not uncommon. Last year, federal prosecutors indicted eight people who allegedly ran a residential burglary ring targeting business owners, typically of Asian family-owned restaurants. Prosecutors allege the group carried out multiple home burglaries in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York and Delaware.
In many of those cases, the actors learned where restaurant owners lived by entering their cars for registration cards, installing makeshift tracking devices on their vehicles, or following them home from work.
The Pennsylvania State Police offers these preventive measures:
- 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.