N.Y. man suspected in home invasion

Crofton robbery latest in Asian-on-Asian attacks in metropolitan area

February 17, 2000|By TaNoah Morgan | TaNoah Morgan,SUN STAFF

One suspect was in custody yesterday and two others were being sought by county police in a Crofton home-invasion robbery Tuesday evening -- the latest in a series of violent break-ins involving attackers and victims of Asian origin.

A 72-year-old man was bound and blindfolded in Tuesday's attack by a trio of gunmen who ransacked his son's house in the 2500 block of Chelmsford Drive looking for money and jewelry, county police said.

Hing Cheong Yeung managed to free himself and fled to a neighbor's home to get help, bringing police and one quick arrest.

In custody is Chan Wah Kwan, 39, of New York, who was being held on charges of armed robbery, burglary, felony theft, assault, false imprisonment, resisting arrest and a weapons offense.

Home-invasion incidents are a relative rarity in the Baltimore metropolitan area, but a state official specializing in Asian affairs said the robberies may be more common than police think, many of them unreported because of language and cultural barriers.

Last month, three men forced their way into the home of Chinese restaurateurs in Harford County, beat a 62-year-old woman who was baby-sitting her two grandchildren, locked the three of them in the basement and took jewelry and about $12,000 in cash.

Baltimore County police have reported similar home invasions targeting the owners of Chinese restaurants.

In Anne Arundel, five members of a Linthicum family were bound at the wrists and ankles during a 1998 home robbery, and two years earlier another Linthicum woman and family members were bound and held at gunpoint while robbers took jewelry and a safe.

In each Arundel incident, as well as the Harford County attack, the victims and robbers were of Asian origin, police said.

Shu-Ping Chan, director of the Governor's Office of Asian Pacific American Affairs, sees cultural attitudes and misconceptions inhibiting communication by victims with the authorities.

"There is a barrier, in terms of going out and trusting police," he said. "There is a general distrust of police and authority figures. There's a language barrier. If you do call 911, what are you going to do if you can't speak English well?"

Chan said victims also tend to blame themselves.

"There's the other irrational thought that if something goes wrong, you did something wrong," he said. "There's an element of shame in even being a victim."

Jai Ryu, a professor of sociology at Loyola College, said Asian-Americans may also become targets for home-invasion burglaries because some tend to carry or keep large sums of cash.

"They are involved in more cash-oriented economics," Ryu said, noting common professions as restaurateurs and grocery store owners. "When they close the store, banks are already closed."

That appeared to be a factor in last month's Harford County robbery, in which $12,000 was stolen. According to family members, the grandmother who was beaten in the attack was supposed to have taken the money -- restaurant proceeds -- to the bank that day. Police said the robbers may have followed a family member home from the restaurant.

In Tuesday's robbery, police said, at least $300 in cash was taken.

According to police, Yeung answered the doorbell shortly after 5 p.m., and the gunmen forced their way into the home. He was left blindfolded with his hands tied in the basement while the robbers searched for valuables.

A county police officer who answered the 911 call after Yeung escaped saw a man walking a few blocks away near Walden Golf Course. As the officer approached, the man tried to flee, according to police.

Police recovered a gun, cash and some jewelry, said Sgt. Thomas J. Wilson, head of the robbery unit.

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