Robbers targeting Asian-American business owners
Posted January 20, 2016
Durham, N.C. — A band of armed, masked men have been targeting Asian-American business owners in recent months, police said.
Durham police have responded to 14 such robberies since late October, with the most recent occurring last weekend. Thieves initially were breaking into the business owners' homes when they weren't there, but police said they have changed their tactics, confronting the owners and families in their homes.
The owner of Unique Nails, at 3808 Guess Road, said he was cooking in his garage Saturday night when he was confronted by five men with guns. They kicked in the door to his home and held his wife, his two children, his nephew and a friend at gunpoint.
The men beat him and demanded money, he said Wednesday, still showing scars on his head from the assault.
"I am worried they will harm my family, my children and my wife. I had some money, and I gave them," he said.
The robbers then locked everyone in closets and bathrooms while they ransacked the house, taking whatever money and jewelry they could find, the man said.
"They thought the Asian people keep the money in the house, but they are wrong," he said.
Interim Durham Police Chief Larry Smith said he's alarmed by the increasing frequency and violence of the robberies.
"The last couple of weeks, we’ve seen home invasions where there is an assault pick up," Smith said.
Police aren't sure why Asian-Americans are being targeted.
"If they have success in one where they get an amount of cash, it may lead them to believe that they’ll have success in the future," Smith said.
Similar robberies have been reported in Wake and Orange counties – an Asian-American business owner was robbed outside his Cary home on Monday – and investigators from various law enforcement agencies are comparing notes to determine if the same group is responsible for all of them.
Crime Stoppers is offering a reward for information leading to arrests in the Durham robberies. Anyone with information is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 919-683-1200.
The owner of Unique Nails said he hopes the robbers are apprehended soon so that another family doesn't have to go through the terror his family experienced Saturday night.
"We (are) very scared, not only my family, but all the people, all my neighborhood," he said.