PORTLAND, Maine — Portland police are warning Asian families that they appear to be the target of burglars.
Police are asking people to be on the lookout for a small group of Hispanic men who allegedly burglarized the homes of at least two Asian families in Portland. They have been driving a white BMW.
Police said they have evidence that a day or two before committing the burglaries, the perpetrators case the homes of the victims they target, even posing as food delivery drivers to get a look inside their victims’ homes.
In two recent burglaries last week, police said Asian business owners in Portland were targeted and burglarized.
Tuyet Le owns a Vietnamese restaurant and bakery on Cumberland Avenue.
She worries who will be their next target.
“Definitely concerning, for sure,” Le said. “The only thing that we can honestly do, because we don’t know exactly who these people are, is just talk to one another, you know. We’re all small businesses. It’s definitely scary. Right now, all we can say is just watch our backs, help each other out.”
The same men may be responsible for similar burglaries throughout Maine, New England and New York.
“They have happened across the Northeast,” interim Police Chief Heath Gorham said. “So to us, that indicates it is a traveling group.”
Unified Asian Communities, a statewide group, sees these burglaries as another attack on Asians.
“In the past, we’ve had numerous attacks on our Asian community,” Theresa Kim of Unified Asian Communities said. “You know, community members getting spit on. Racial slurs.”
Kim said several local Asian families reported seeing the suspects and white BMW in their neighborhood.
“I do know there’s different messages that’s gone out between other community members and owners of businesses that they’ve seen these gentlemen around the neighborhoods,” Kim said.
She’s now warning Asians in Maine to lock their doors, not answer the door for strangers and to keep an eye out for the suspects.
“We have a lot of our elderly community members that watch the business owners’ children while the business owners are running their business,” Kim said. “My fear is there may end up being a home invasion.”
“That’s one of our huge concerns,” Gorham said. “And one of the reasons we felt it was so prudent to get it out as quickly as we did.”
Gorham said in one case, the victims were home while the burglary took place.
Anyone with information about the burglaries can call the Portland Police Department.