- The warning comes from Supervisory Special Agent Mike Ratta of the FBI field office in Newark who noted the growing number of Asian-American business owners in the Garden State being targeted by sophisticated criminal groups.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation is warning the Asian American community in New Jersey of facing an increased risk of being burglarized, as reported by a local radio station. According to the report by 101.5, the caution comes from Supervisory Special Agent Mike Ratta of the FBI field office in Newark who noted the growing number of reports over the past three years of Asian-American business owners in the Garden State being targeted by sophisticated criminal groups. He said these criminals are carefully watching these businesses. “They may rummage through their cars to determine where they might live, then they would do surveillance at the residence as well,” he said. “They would follow them to and from work and other places.”
Noting that “this is not a rag-tag group of crooks,” Ratta said “these sophisticated criminal enterprises are doing surveillance of their targets much like law enforcement would do. The FBI believes there are numerous criminal groups committing these crimes, not one particular enterprise, he added, according to nj101.5.
Asian Americans are the fastest-growing racial group in New Jersey, “accounting for about 10 percent of the population,” according to a 2019 nj.com report. At the time, the report estimated about 941,000 Asian Americans among the state’s 9 million residents. “The most (384,000) are Indian, followed by Chinese (168,000), Filipino (137,000), and Korean (105,000),” the nj.com report said. The counties with the largest Asian American populations are Middlesex (24 percent of the county’s residents), Bergen (16 percent), and Hudson (15 percent).
Citing the reasons for the Asian American community to be targeted, Ratta said that “there’s been a belief that the Asian community keeps cash in their homes and that they’re not utilizing traditional banks, and instead they keep their money in their residence.”
He recommended the Asian American community stay aware of their surroundings and try to determine if they’re being followed. He also said they should consider keeping money and valuables in a bank.
Ratta said the FBI is going public with this update because “it’s very, very important to get the word out to the community to let them know that there’s potential for this to occur to them.”
Last month, in a “smash-and-grab” robbery, armed thieves followed an employee through the front door of Virani Jewelers on Oak Tree Road in Iselin, New Jersey, just before closing, to loot the high-end jewelry store. News reports at the time said the “seven to nine gloved robbers, some brandishing handguns,” were caught on a store security camera.
In May 2021, five New Jersey men and three from Pennsylvania were arrested and charged for “a massive burglary ring that targeted families of Asian descent,” nj.com reported at the time. They were accused of more than 50 homes in several states over a more than two-year span.
The group targeted business owners, typically of Asian family-owned restaurants, according to a criminal complaint, which said about $500,000 in cash was stolen in one burglary alone.