Kirkland police arrest alleged burglars who targeted Indian Americans, South Asians

Mar 29, 2024, 4:58 PM | Updated: Mar 30, 2024, 1:06 am

Photo: Police recovered stolen items, over $17,000 in cash and several designer bags in Kirkland ar...

Police recovered stolen items, over $17,000 in cash and several designer bags in Kirkland arrests of five alleged burglars. (Photo courtesy of the Kirkland Police Department)

(Photo courtesy of the Kirkland Police Department)

After a two-month-long investigation, Kirkland police apprehended five alleged burglars Sunday who targeted Indian American and South Asian communities.

The five men are accused of orchestrating 17 burglaries in Kirkland and the surrounding areas, according to a news release from the Kirkland Police Department (KPD) Thursday.

KPD starts probe after concerns from community

The investigation was sparked in February when members of the Eastside Indian American and South Asian communities brought their concerns to law enforcement. Residents said there had been an uptick in racially-motivated burglaries impacting them. Data from Kirkland crime analysts confirmed a possible uptick in targeted burglaries.

Later that month, surveillance cameras and eyewitnesses captured photos of the men and the license plate of a rental car they were using.

KPD said one of the men was from Palmdale, California, and had a lengthy criminal history as a convicted felon. Investigators found out the man traveled frequently between California and Washington, using short-term rental properties to move around.

More local crime: Family says teen can ‘rest in peace’ after Bothell man convicted of 1993 murder

The group also rented cars and allegedly swapped out license plates with stolen ones. The evidence led police to a short-term rental in Redmond.

On Sunday, a team searched the home and arrested the five men, who were all from Southern California. Police charged them with burglaries in Kirkland, King County and Snohomish County.

Equipment, believed to be used for counter surveillance and tricking home security features, was found in the rental. Police also recovered stolen items, over $17,000 in cash and several designer bags.

“This is an impactful and successful outcome for our community,” Kirkland Police Chief Cherie Harris said. “Thank you to our community members for trusting law enforcement with your story and for all our community members’ assistance along the way. And I also want to send a big thank you to the Lynnwood, Bothell and Bellevue Police Departments for their critical assistance and collaboration in this multi-jurisdictional investigation.”

The men were booked into King County Jail.

Case similar to past racially motivated burglaries, home invasions

The case sounds eerily similar to one last year. In June 2023, three suspects were arrested for over 200 burglaries across Western Washington. The first 20 targeted the homes of Asian Americans in Snohomish County, as reported by KIRO 7.

Those suspects were booked into King County Jail.

There were also two arrests last month where the alleged home invasion robbers targeted people of Asian descent.

Past coverage: Accused Seattle home invasion robbers face hate crime charges

Another series of targeted robberies happened in 2022. A Sultan man, who is Asian American and Pacific Islander, was charged with a hate crime and multiple robberies. Police said he targeted several Asian-owned spas in the Puget Sound area.

Court documents said the spas were chosen because “based on (the) perception that the race of (the) parlors’ owner suggested they would be engaged in illegal activity, thus unlikely to report his crimes to law enforcement.”

Background: North Sound man charged with hate crime after multiple robberies at Asian-owned spas

AP cites uptick in Asian, Pacific Islander hate crimes

Asian and Pacific Islander hate crimes appear to be a rising trend, according to The Associated Press (AP).

A 2023 poll from AAPI Data and The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research found 15% of Asian American and Pacific Islanders say they have been the victim of a hate crime. And 51% believe racism is an “extremely” or “very serious” problem in the U.S.

Julia Dallas is a content editor at MyNorthwest. You can read her stories here. Follow Julia on X, formerly known as Twitter, here and email her here.

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Kirkland police arrest alleged burglars who targeted Indian Americans, South Asians