A recent string of robberies, specifically of homes above Chinese restaurants, have been occurring in Philadelphia’s Chinatown neighborhood. According to police, two suspects were arrested in August this year, but there are still others carrying out similar crimes who have not been caught yet.
According to the Philadelphia Police Department’s Crime Mapper feature, in the last six months there have been 129 crimes in the Chinatown area, including six robberies, 15 burglaries, and 97 thefts. In just the last month alone, there were three burglaries, one robbery, and 10 thefts concentrated within Chinatown’s boundaries.
Dr. Ying Zhang Lin, head of the Chinese Restaurant Association of Philadelphia, spoke about the concerns of Chinese restaurant owners regarding these recent crimes plaguing the neighborhood
“These robberies are happening in homes above Chinese takeout restaurants, usually in the middle of the night,” Lin said. He also said he thinks that they tend to be targeted because they often have cash in their homes from their restaurants. Another theory mentioned is that because most are immigrants who aren’t comfortable with the English language, that the criminals feel they can more easily get away with it and that charges won’t be pressed.
Many business owners didn’t discuss the crimes because they couldn’t understand English well enough to know what was being asked or simply didn’t feel comfortable commenting on the matter.
Though it has increased in recent months according to police records, this violence against Chinese restaurant owners in Philadelphia is nothing new.
“From 2000 to 2006 in Philadelphia, 11 Chinese takeout business owners were murdered,” Lin said. While Lin said that those numbers have gone down between 2006 and 2015, crime is still prevalent.
Being the head of the Chinese Restaurant association, Lin has known and gotten close to many of the business owners involved in these crimes over the years. Recently, the Philadelphia Chinatown Development Corporation, or PCDC, decided to take a step toward fixing the issue.
“On Friday, Chinese community leaders will hold a meeting to arrange the next set of actions,” states John Chin, executive director of the PCDC. However, this meeting is not open to the public. In addition to this, there will also be a rally held in Chinatown at 11 a.m. on Oct. 15.
“We are holding a big protest,” Dr. Ying Zhang Lin said. “We expect roughly a thousand people to attend and to speak out against the robberies.” Though this protest allows a way for citizens to get involved and try to solve the issue, there are also legal attempts at solutions being arranged as well. Lin says that there will be a City Council hearing held on Oct. 31 at City Hall.
“This is important because it will be an opportunity for our voices to be heard and for something helpful to be done,” Lin said.
While Friday’s meeting isn’t open to the public, Lin says he would like to see many people at the protest being held Saturday, Oct. 15 at 11 a.m. For more information on events in Chinatown, please visit the PCDC’s website.