Members of an Asian-American family in Cockeysville were bound and their home ransacked early today by four young Asian-American men armed with knives, Baltimore County police said.
Sgt. Stephen R. Doarnberger, a police spokesman, said about $6,000 was taken from the home during the robbery, which was similar to robberies of Asian-American families in other cities around the country.
In what police know as "home invasions," gangs of young Asian-American men, sometimes using violence and terror, prey on well-to-do Asian-American families.
Sergeant Doarnberger said today's robbery occurred about 2 a.m. in the 10600 block of Pot Spring Road.
Police said the robbers, all in their 20s and between 5-foot-1 and 5-foot-6, entered the home of Jason Chu, 42, owner of Tony Cheng's Restaurant at 801 N. Charles St. in Baltimore. An employee said Mr. Chu has owned the restaurant for 10 years.
After entering through a window, Sergeant Doarnberger said, the men tied up Mr. Chu, his wife, Aannie, 41, and his daughter, Alice, 12, with telephone cord.
A fourth member of the family, 6-year-old son Michael, remained asleep during the robbery.
Sergeant Doarnberger said Mr. Chu received a small cut on his left arm during the robbery. There were no other injuries, he said.
After they freed themselves around 3 a.m., the victims called police.
In addition to stealing cash, the robbers took a few pieces of jewelry, he said. Police were still tallying the value of the stolen jewelry.
Police believe the suspects escaped in a car.
Police in other cities have said that the Asian-American gangs sometimes stake out Asian-owned restaurants or businesses, then follow the owners home.
"It's definitely a similar incident," Sergeant Doarnberger said of the Cockeysville robbery. Victims are "targeted because they are known in the [Asian-American] community," he said.
Similar robberies have been reported in recent years in the Washington suburbs, including Montgomery County, and in Philadelphia, Boston, New York City and elsewhere.
Sgt. Sid Branham of the Baltimore County Police Department's organized crime intelligence unit said today's robbery was the fourth crime involving an Asian-American gang that has been reported to county police in 3 1/2 years. For every reported crime, he said, at least a few go unreported because the criminals generally try to frighten the victims into keeping silent.
Robbers will enter a house when the victims are at home to find where valuables may be hidden and to intimidate the victims, Sergeant Branham said.
The neighborhood where the Chu family lives is called Top Field, according to a sign near the entrance marked by stone gates. Signs at the gate also read, "Private Property."
The large homes in the development, at the northern end of Pot Spring Road, are valued at about $500,000, neighbors said. Many appear to be new.
The homes in the development sit on large tracts.
Several neighbors contacted today said they had no contact with the Chu family other than to wave at them from a distance.
"They're a real quiet family," said Karen Nolan, a neighbor.
Neighbors, most of whom had not heard about the robbery, said they were shocked by the crime.
"It's usually a real safe place," Mrs. Nolan said. Most families have alarm systems on their homes, she added.