Authorities seek public help in stopping robberies of Asian restaurant owners
Posted December 29, 2014
Updated December 30, 2014
Raleigh, N.C. — The state Department of Public Safety put out of plea Monday for public assistance to halt a growing string of robberies of people tied to Asian restaurants across 13 counties in eastern North Carolina.
In the past year, 35 home invasions have occurred shortly after restaurant owners have closed up for the night, authorities said. The most recent case occurred last week in Wake Forest, when three masked gunmen robbed a family at home after they had closed Lin's Garden on Main Street on Christmas Eve.
Frank Zhu, who spoke Tuesday on behalf of his parents, said he was standing on the family's front porch with his parents and younger brother and sister when the robbers forced them inside at gunpoint.
"When they were inside, they took the money and cellphones," he said. "My sister and brother were crying. Two of them had guns – one had it in his pocket, and the other had the gun pointed at us."
Each of the robberies has occurred in similar fashion, authorities said, with three to five armed men wearing masks ambushing restaurant owners as they arrive home and assaulting them until they turn over the cash they are carrying.
Wake and Wayne counties have each seen five such robberies in the past year, while Craven County has had four. Nash and Lenoir counties follow with three each, while Durham, Edgecombe, Harnett, Johnston, Onslow and Pitt counties have had two apiece. One robbery each was reported in Beaufort, Jones and Wilson counties.
Several law enforcement agencies have partnered with the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and the State Bureau of Investigation to ask for the public’s help in solving the crimes.
ATF, Craven County Crime Stoppers, Edgecombe/ Nash County Crime Stoppers, Pitt County Crime Stoppers, the Clayton Police Department and the Tarboro Police Department have combined to offer an $8,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the robbers.
Anyone with information about any of the robberies is asked to call a tip line set up for the investigation at 1-800-276-4533.