2 more burglary suspects accused of targeting Asian, East Indian owners arrested

May 3, 2024, 9:05 AM

Image: A Snohomish County Sheriff's vehicle is seen in Lynnwood in March 2024. Agency robbery and b...

A Snohomish County Sheriff's vehicle is seen in Lynnwood in March 2024. (Photo: Steve Coogan, MyNorthwest)

(Photo: Steve Coogan, MyNorthwest)

Two more burglary suspects were arrested Wednesday in what is believed to be an organized crime group targeting Asian and East Indian homeowners in Western Washington since 2021.

Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office Robbery and Burglary detectives, Lynnwood Police Department detectives, and people working with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security arrested two suspects at a residence in Tacoma in connection to a two-year joint investigation, according to a press release sent to KIRO Newsradio.

This marks the 10th arrest of suspects believed to be part of an organized crime group from South America responsible for over 300 burglaries in King and Snohomish Counties in the last 2 1/2 years. These crimes have resulted in more than $5 million of losses in cash and jewelry, the press statement reads.

Two 34-year-old men were arrested in booked into Snohomish County Jail. The first man was booked on 11 counts of burglary and six counts of the second faces 12 counts of burglary and seven counts of theft, the law enforcement agencies stated. Detectives also referred another six counts of burglary and three counts of theft on a 24-year-old man who was already being held in the Snohomish County Jail on charges related to this investigation.

The 34-year-old suspects have been linked to a dozen burglaries in Snohomish County since last November, including in the cities of Lynnwood and Mukilteo and also in unincorporated south Snohomish County.

During the investigation, agency investigators determined the suspects have targeted Asian and East Indian homeowners, with the belief that they keep large amounts of cash and pieces of jewelry in their homes. The statement adds detectives believe the suspects are finding victims through locally owned small businesses and open-source databases by running a name query.

The statement concluded by stating that this remains an active investigation.

Three other suspects were arrested in June 2023 as KIRO 7 explained. The news outlet said at that time that investigators had traced the crimes back to November 2021, starting with 20 “very similar burglaries” targeting the homes of Asian-Americans in Snohomish County. At the time, detectives had a main suspect who had left the area months later. The burglaries stopped once he had gone, and then “drastically increased again” when he came back in 2022.

Police in Kirkland recently made similar arrests

Police in Kirkland apprehended five alleged burglars at the end of March 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.

Previous coverage: Police in Kirkland arrest five alleged burglars

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.

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.

From there, 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.

Uptick in Asian, Pacific Islander hate crimes and fears

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

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.

Additional national coverage: Despite ongoing advocacy and legislation, acts of abuse continue

The 2024 STAATUS Index survey, which is from The Asian American Foundation, reports “Asian Americans continue to experience hate and expect to experience discrimination.” The report states nearly 1 in 3 Asian Americans have been called a racial or ethnic slur in the past year. and nearly 3 in 10 Asian Americans were verbally harassed or abused in the last 12 months because of their race, ethnicity, or religion.

In addition, the survey found 41% of Asian Americans think they are “likely to be the victim of a physical attack in the next five years because of their race, ethnicity, or religion,” the survey found. Just 31% of all Americans believe that.

Contributing: Julia Dallas, MyNorthwest; KIRO 7

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