HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) — The Pennsylvania State Police (PSP) say they are investigating a series of burglaries targeting Asian American restaurant owners.

A release from PSP states that nearly a million dollars in cash and personal property have been stolen from the homes of Asian Americans who own Chinese food restaurants throughout Pennsylvania.

“While many of these crimes occurred in the northeastern part of the state, similar burglaries have been reported across the commonwealth,” said Col. Robert Evanchick, commissioner of the Pennsylvania State Police. “We want business owners to be aware of this trend and take preventive measures.”

The burglars seem to be operating as a team, according to the release, in which one person will act as a lookout while one or two others enter the home and another waits in a getaway vehicle. Cash and jewelry are items that are commonly stolen, police say.

PSP believes that these burglars plan which houses they will target and observe the activity patterns of the residents to determine when the home will be unoccupied. These burglaries take under 30 minutes, police say, and the burglars usually disguise themselves, occasionally by wearing yellow safety vests or posing as landscapers.

According to the release, these types of crimes aren’t uncommon. In fact, last year federal prosecutors indicted eight people who allegedly ran a residential burglary ring that targeted business owners who typically owned Asian family-owned restaurants. The prosecutors allege that the group carried out multiple home burglaries in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, and Delaware, according to the release.

The burglars in those cases often learned where the restaurant owners lived by following them home from work, entering their cars and searching for registration cards, or even installing tracking devices on their vehicles, according to PSP.

PSP is advising business owners to follow these preventative measures:

  • Secure cash and valuables in your home
  • Be aware of individuals and vehicles that aren’t usually in your neighborhood
  • Install motion sensor lights around your home
  • Consider having cameras and an alarm system installed
  • Keep your vehicle locked while at work and make sure your registration information is hidden
  • Be aware of anyone who could potentially be following you home
  • Report any suspicious activity to your local police department