Philly councilman plans hearings to help Chinatown businesses cope with rash of robberies

(Kimberly Paynter/WHYY)

(Kimberly Paynter/WHYY)

Following a string of armed robberies of Asian-owned businesses in Philadelphia, a city councilman is calling for hearings.

Since May, more than a dozen invasions and armed robberies have been reported at Chinese takeout restaurants, other Asian-owned establishments and sometimes the apartments above. Councilman David Oh said, however, business owners have not reported dozens of other cases to police.

“Most of the people are poor,” he said. “They’ve got a little takeout restaurant in a not wealthy neighborhood. They live upstairs with their kids. People are coming in with guns, pointing guns at children and seniors, looking for money that may not be there.”

Criminals target these restaurants because they believe the victims likely will not press charges, Oh said, although a task force including the Philadelphia Police Department and the FBI is urging them to do so.

Oh is planning to hold hearings to discuss the cases and educate business owners about ways to protect themselves.

“We have to make sure they’re in touch with law enforcement,” he said. “Most importantly, they must go to court and prosecute.”

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