Home invasions spark action
Friday, January 16, 2009 10:44 AM EST
By Rose Quinn, firstname.lastname@example.org
MARPLE — Using 15 incidents of violent crime against Asian-American business owners and their families in the tri-county area, law enforcers have been able to chart the bad guys’ methods, their weapons of choice, what they’re looking for and how they’re picking their targets.
Thanks to a Pennsylvania State Police analysis expert, they’ve also narrowed what days of the week and the time of day the crimes — armed robbery, burglary, home invasion and murder — are most likely to happen.
Speaking at an outreach forum Thursday coordinated by his office and state police, Delaware County District Attorney G. Michael Green joined local, state and federal law enforcers who hope sharing potentially life-saving information might help put an end to the violence, as well as some cultural stereotyping.
“This is outrageous behavior,” Green said of those targeting hardworking people, in part, because of their ethnic origin. “All of us recognize that as a factor in these cases and that is why we are here today.”
State police Capt. David Young explained during a PowerPoint presentation at Delaware County Community College that, on paper, there have been five incidents of crime in Delaware County — one each in Middletown, Collingdale, Upper Darby and two in Marple since November. There have been nine robberies in Philadelphia County and one in Montgomery County.
“I’m sure there’s others,” he said of unreported victims, encouraging even the most private of persons to come forward in order to help avoid future crimes.
“There are no guarantees in life ... This is great advice we are going to give you,” Young said. “We are taking this very seriously and we need the community to know that.”
A week ago today, Robert Chae, the owner of a beauty-supply company in Philadelphia, was found dead in the garage of his North Wales, Montgomery County, home. He was stabbed and bound by duct tape. No charges have been filed.
In that case, Chae and his wife were preparing to leave for work. Three black males burst through a garage door at the home, as it was being opened between 5 and 6 a.m.
Among some established patterns, according to Young, are armed suspects confronting victims as they enter or exit their homes or vehicles.
Young said victims have also been followed as they leave their business, and some suspects have even called ahead for closing times.
Those who think they are being stalked should call the police.
“We can lock up for stalking,” reminded Young.
Victims could be singled out because of the car they drive, like a high-end Mercedes-Benz, noted Young. But some victims have been owners of an Acura or a Subaru.
In 12 of the 15 cases, a handgun was used. Authorities have recovered two weapons, a 40-caliber handgun and a .22-caliber revolver.
All incidents involved physical force.
In addition to cash and jewelry, the assailants took a television, credit cards, house and vehicle keys, handbags and fur coats. Many items have been recovered.
If Asian-Americans are considered easy marks among criminals because they do not use banks, carry cash and don’t fight back as suggested by one suspect, Young said it might be time for those in the community to rethink some behavior patterns.
“Perception is a reality,” said Young. “If you are a criminal, that’s a pretty easy way to make money.”
To date, eight males and one female have been arrested for 12 of the 15 incidents. Authorities in Philadelphia believe an arrest overnight Wednesday could lead to an arrest in one of two open cases in Marple.
Though the suspects are primarily all black male residents of Philadelphia between the ages of 17 and 20, Young said no one should be walking around afraid of every male that fits that description.
Those in the Asian-American community fearful of possible immigration or undeclared revenue issues, should they come forward as victims, were reminded by Green and Montgomery County First Assistant District Attorney Kevin Steele that such matters fall under federal law.
“We’re here to serve the public. We’re not here to start pointing fingers at our victims,” Green said.
Green encouraged Asian-Americans to visit the district attorney’s Web site for more information. Though language translation is available through Google, he said his office is currently working to install a language toolbar directly on the Web site.
He said his office welcomes any and all input from the Asian-American community.
Joining Green, Young and Steele on the auditorium stage were John F. Kitzinger of the FBI and Lt. John F. Walker of the Southwest Detective Division in Philadelphia.
Incidents of violence in Delaware County against Asian-Americans:
• 200 block of Lenni Road in Middletown, Saturday, Nov. 29, 2008, 9:50 p.m. An Asian man and his pregnant wife were robbed in their driveway after being followed home from a nearby mall.
• 400 block of Hampshire Drive in Marple, Monday, Dec. 1, 2008, 10:28 p.m. Three masked and armed gunman forced their way into the home of an Asian business owner in West Philadelphia.
• 100 block of Ferguson Avenue, Marple, Wednesday, Dec. 3, 10:54 p.m. Armed intruders forced their way into a home, took a briefcase containing cash from the female homeowner, who is also the owner of a business in Upper Darby. Her 15-year-old son received a minor injury in the attack.
• 500 block of MacDade Boulevard in Collingdale, Friday, Dec. 5, 2008, 3:07 a.m. A store owner was accosted in his home, which is located under the shop.
• 100 block of Barrington Road in Upper Darby, Tuesday, Dec. 18, 2008, 7:29 p.m. A Philadelphia store owner was baited by a woman who knocked on the front door of his Stonehurst home just before three masked men intruded.
• The first in the series of 15 incidents tracked by authorities occurred in Philadelphia on Thursday, Nov. 20, 2008, at 7:20 p.m.
The most recent incident was the deadly home invasion in North Wales, Montgomery County on Friday, Jan. 9.