Ottawa Police say organized thieves are targeting people of Asian descent in the city.  Thieves are breaking into homes and stealing thousands of dollars in cash, gold and jewelry.  There have been nine residential break-ins in about three weeks, all of them during the day.  Police say thieves bust in through a back door or window while no one is home and police add that there's one other important detail all these crimes have in common.

Judy Tam lives in Barrhaven, right next door to where one of the break-ins occurred about two weeks ago. She heard the alarm going off in the house and went to check on her neighbor’s property.

"The back yard door was broken,” says Tam, “and the basement window was broken.”

Tam says the weird thing is that they didn't take the computer or iPhone; just the jewelry.

“They checked the master bedroom,” she says, “they search the closet and all the jewelry and thing is gone.”

"We've had 9 now that are connected to same suspects,” says Staff-Sergeant Kal Ghadban with the Ottawa Police Break and Enter Unit.

Police say since October 22, organized thieves have been targeting homes throughout the city, owned by people of Asian descent; Chinese, Japanese or Korean. Most of the break-ins have occurred in Barrhaven, along with one in Chapel Hill, one in Central Park and another near Somerset and Bronson.

"Often they have gold that are heirlooms or wedding gifts,” says Ghadban, “and of higher quality, 22 karat gold so these suspects know these people have this in their home or are likely to have it in their home.” 


One other thing in common Ghadban says is that the victims either own a restaurant or work in one, long, hard hours.   While they're gone, thieves have made off with more than ten thousand dollars in goods from each home.  Police says these are targeted break-ins.  They're going in prepared and coming out with huge hauls of money, gold and jewelry.  If there's a safe inside, they've got the tools with them to break into those. Wei Yu owns Wei’s Noodle House in Chinatown and says he never leaves cash and gold at home but knows others do.

"With the Asian community,” says Yu, “they' don't trust banks or where stuff is going.  They want to keep it there (at home) because they know it's there.”

Police are encouraging people to use a safety deposit box for their valuables and to keep watch on their neighbor’s houses.

Last year, a similar series of break-ins was targeting the south Asian community.  Police say those responsible were from the Toronto area.  They are now working with other police agencies in Ontario to try to determine whether these same crimes are happening elsewhere.