County police ask FBI to help in robbery case

Elkridge family lost $10,000 to intruders

June 18, 1999|By Nancy A. Youssef | Nancy A. Youssef,SUN STAFF

Howard County police have called on the FBI to help investigate a robbery Wednesday of a family at their Elkridge home of an estimated $10,000.

The robbery marked the second time that the family of wholesale produce distributor Zi Qi Huang has been victimized since moving into the home on Bonnie View Lane four years ago.

In 1996, burglars took about $170,000 in cash and jewelry -- but most of it was recovered the same day when three suspects were arrested.

Shortly before 8: 30 a.m., police say, three or four men broke into the ranch-style home through a side garage door. Huang told police he heard someone yell "robbery" in Cantonese, and he jumped out a bedroom window.

The robbers -- brandishing knives and a gun -- forced Huang's wife, Tian Huang, 43, and their son and daughter, ages 8 and 10, to lie on the floor.

The intruders stole about $10,000 in U.S. and Chinese currency from the mother's purse, said Sgt. Morris Carroll, a county police spokesman. They also took a piggy bank belonging to one of the children.

The family was planning to leave that day for a trip to China, Carroll said.

Zi Qi Huang, 44, ran to a nearby hotel to call police. But by the time help arrived, the robbers were gone, police said.

In the Oct. 11, 1996, burglary, three men took $150,000 the Huangs kept in brown paper bags in a bedroom closet, with $20,000 in cash from a chest of drawers and $15,000 in jewelry, according to court documents.

Police did not know why the family was keeping such a large sum of money in the house then, Carroll said.

The Huang grocery wholesale business -- Wing Hing South Co. in Jessup -- distributes produce to hundreds of Chinese restaurants in Delaware and Virginia.

Baltimore police arrested three burglary suspects -- including Quy Chan Nam Ly, 21, and Minh Chan Nam Ly, 31 -- the same day as the 1996 robbery and charged them with four counts, including first-degree burglary.

The Lys pleaded guilty to burglary. Charges against a third suspect were dropped.

"It appeared to be an Asian gang out of the Massachusetts area in the 1996 case," Carroll said.

Federal officials were called in after Wednesday's robbery because police believe the incident was related to the Huangs' interstate commerce dealings, said Agent Peter Gulotta, a spokesman for the FBI in Baltimore. The Huangs own other wholesale businesses, Gulotta said.

"We are certainly looking into whether some of the same kinds of people were involved" in Wednesday's robbery and the 1996 burglary, Gulotta said.

Pub Date: 6/18/99

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