Robbers target East Bay Asian restaurants

December 14, 2007 12:00:00 AM PST
East Bay police are on the alert for robbers who seem to be targeting Asian restaurants. So far, no one's been hurt, but police are concerned because of the way the places have been robbed.

Diners at the King Tsin Restaurant today didn't have the scary experience of Monday night, when two gunmen walked into the Solano Avenue restaurant in Berkeley and robbed the business and some patrons.

'My first reaction was, 'is this really happening on Solano Avenue?'" says restaurant owner Albert Lou.

Lou described two teenagers wearing hooded sweatshirts who came in and confronted him.

"When the first come in they pulled down their hood, and they pointed a gun at me and said, 'well, I want money,'" says Lou.

Lou said he cooperated for the safety of his customers and employees, but one of the gunmen demanded money from diners, as well.

"This is very, very unusual because King Tsin has been here since 1967, and this is the first time it has ever happened to us. Yeah, hopefully it will never happen again," says Lou.

The Yusan Sushi Restaurant in nearby El Cerrito was hit the week before, and there was a similar robbery in Berkeley last August.

"What concerns us most is we haven't seen this style of robbery or a trend like that since the 80s, actually, and it has a certain kind of emotional impact and the propensity for violence in this type of crime is much higher than an ordinary type robbery," says Sgt. Mary Kusmiss with the Berkeley Police Department.

Berkeley Police Sergeant Mary Kusmiss says there's more than enough reason for concern with robbers bold enough to take over a business in a densely populated commercial district with dozens of witnesses watching.

"If a community member or business owner decides to do something or startles them, there's no telling what could happen."

Police can offer no explanation why Asian restaurants are being targeted. Restaurant owners say they're spreading the word about the incidents and watching out for each other.

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