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Thieves targeting Asian business owners on Vancouver Island: RCMP

Campbell River RCMP said there is 'significant information' supporting the theory that the culprits,, who could be part of an organized crime group, are targeting business owners of Asian descent.  (CBC - image credit)
Campbell River RCMP said there is 'significant information' supporting the theory that the culprits,, who could be part of an organized crime group, are targeting business owners of Asian descent. (CBC - image credit)

Mounties on Vancouver Island are warning that thieves in the Comox Valley and Campbell River are breaking into the residences of Asian business owners while they're at work.

Campbell River RCMP wrote in a Friday release the thieves may be tracking the victims' locations by placing GPS trackers on their vehicles.

The release said there is "significant information" that suggests the thieves, who could be part of an organized crime group, are targeting people of Asian descent.

Campbell River RCMP Const. Maury Tyre said a total of five incidents within the last 10 days are being investigated: two incidents in Campbell River, which lies around 220 kilometres northwest of Victoria, and three similar break-ins in the Comox Valley 40 kilometres to the south.

Tyre said the homes that have been broken into all belong to people of Asian descent who are small-business owners in the community. She said there was no indication at the scenes that the crimes were racially motivated.

Investigators in the Comox Valley believe the thieves may have visited the homes prior to the intrusion to determine if anyone was home.

Const. Holly Carlson with the Comox Valley RCMP said the culprit might say they are at the wrong house if they come across the homeowner. She is asking anyone who has had such an experience to contact police immediately.

"You're not talking incidents where this is just a random crime of availability to somebody," said Tyre. "There's definitely a level of organization here."

In the release, police asked residents in the area of the 600-block of Garden Way or the 21000-block of Joanne Drive in Campbell River — where the break-ins in that community occurred — to review security footage and contact police about anything suspicious.

They are also asking people who live in those areas to report any suspicious activity or vehicles.

Tyre said residents should ensure they lock their doors and windows when leaving the house. He also recommends people install a security system, cameras and outdoor lighting to deter break-ins.