By Rebecca Ip
Seattle Chinese Post
The depressed economy seems to have affected the security and safety of the Chinatown/International District and its neighboring communities. In recent months, more robberies in the streets and in residents’ homes — located in the International District, Beacon Hill, and Rainier Valley neighborhoods — have been reported than before.
However, many non-English-speaking victims have been reluctant to come forward to report their losses to the police.
An exception is Mr. Guan (first name unknown), who was robbed in early April. Guan is the father of Mei Chan, who owns Jade Garden Seafood Restaurant with her husband, Leo. Chan, speaking on behalf of her father, says she hopes that publicizing the robbery will motivate the community and the police to improve security in senior housing areas and in the greater community. Chan indicated that thefts are on the rise and that her father’s case is not a rare occurrence.
On the day of the incident, a couple in their 30s knocked on Guan’s apartment door and asked to use his bathroom. Guan let the couple in. After they left, Guan found money missing from his home. Fortunately, the couple did not harm Guan.
Guan asked the building manager for help afterward. The manager just told Guan to report the incident to the police.
Chan says that many seniors in the area cannot speak English, so when incidents happen, they cannot easily deal with them. She says her father’s building, which is managed by Washington Management, does lock the gates, but there are no security cameras inside the building. Additionally, the apartment units are not equipped with an emergency alarm. Residents are not allowed to install their own lock or alarm system.
When Seattle Chinese Post (SCP) and KIRO TV reporters inquired about this incident to the on-site manager, they were referred to the management’s headquarters. However, when the headquarters was contacted, the SCP reporter was told she had to present all inquiries to the company in a formal letter on company letterhead.
The company would not guarantee a prompt reply.
Though many thefts are not reported by Chinese residents, there are many stories of seniors being victimized circulating within the Chinese community.
One such story involves an unnamed 80-year-old senior resident in Chinatown who answered the door and was faced with a man who said he was delivering goods from the resident’s children. When the resident tried to tip the man, the man grabbed the resident’s wallet and fled.
These Chinese residents hope that management will improve the security system inside these senior housing buildings and will be more vigilant in watching for intruders.
They would also like to have security cameras installed inside the building. Residents believe the management should also educate the seniors on how to protect themselves from thefts.
Recently, a few Chinatown stores have also been the victims of thefts. Weng Chan, manager of Jade Garden Restaurant, told SCP that the restaurant has been burglarized several times.
Thieves snuck into the restaurant’s storage room and made away with several cases of shrimps. The thieves then sold the cases to other restaurants at a cheap price.
On another occasion, a robber came in and hid in Jade Garden’s basement during business hours. After the restaurant closed for the night, the man came out and took cases of food. His actions were captured on the store’s security camera.
The police later captured the man based on the video footage. The police praised Chan for his foresight in installing the security camera, which provided proof in a case against the burglar. (end)
Rebecca Ip is an editor for the Seattle Chinese Post, Northwest Asian Weekly’s Chinese-language sister paper.
She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.