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Chinatown residents briefed about burglary, urged to better report crimes

21 October 2008 2 Comments

By Guo Shipeng

Alan Yu, Oakland Police Department's Asian Liaison Officer, speaks at the NCPC meeting

Oakland Police Department's Asian Liaison Officer Alan Yu speaks

Oakland’s Chinatown held its latest monthly crime-prevention meeting on Wednesday evening (Oct 15), in which police briefed some 80 residents present about a recent burglary and once again urged them to shake off the habit of not reporting crime cases.

A Chinese family lost $5,000 in cash and $6,000 worth of jewelery during daytime on Sunday October 12 when someone broke into their house on the 10th Street through an open window, Alan Yu, Oakland Police Department’s Asian Liaison Officer, told a packed lobby of the St. Marks Apartments, a senior’s home with about 100 units on the 12th Street.

Yu advised residents not to put too much cash at home, a common practice for Chinese immigrants and particularly elderly people, who made up of the bulk of the audience.

“Please don’t worry about the banks shutting down shop. There is deposit insurance,” Carl Chan, chair of the Chinatown’s Neighborhood Crime Prevention Council (NCPC), reassured the listeners.

Chan, also president of the Oakland Chinatown Chamber Foundation, told the 510report that the Chinatown NCPC had been holding Cantonese-language public meetings for more than three years and the venue for the event on the third Wednesday of every month was normally at one of the several senior’s homes in the neighborhood for the convenience of the elders.

In the latest meeting, Chan and Yu, accompanied by another four police officers and several volunteers, made yet another appeal to Chinatown residents for them to report whatever crimes happen to them.

The community is known for its propensity to keep crime cases to themselves when no or little economic losses are incurred or injuries inflicted, a habit police officers have attributed to cultural differences.

But that has made the residents more vulnerable, encouraging law breakers and hampering police efforts to study crime patterns to prevent future offences, the officers said.

“Not only will they come back again and again, assuming it’s their turf here,” Yu said. “But also our superiors will be in the dark about what is going on in Chinatown and will think it’s very safe.”

“Then it is impossible for them to make the decision to deploy more officers and resources in Chinatown,” Yu said.

Police neighborhood coordinator Michael Sze takes questions from an elderly woman

Michael Sze, Oakland Police Department's neighborhood coordinator for the Chinatown, takes questions from an elderly woman

Cantonese-speaking officers and volunteers at the Chinatown Substation of the Oakland Police Department would help those who didn’t speak good English to complete the paper work for reporting a case, the officers reassured the audience.

In the Wednesday meeting that lasted for about one hour and forty minutes, only a handful of listeners stood up to voice their concerns about public safety despite a general fear and repeated attempts from the officers to encourage them to speak out.

An elderly woman who lived in St. Marks complained about Souza’s Liquor right next to the senior’s home that attracted a large number of alcoholic people loitering at night.

Another told her story of being pushed and kicked by a homeless man on the street in September after she refused to give him money.

Yu advised the elders to go out in groups either during daytime or at night as “there were only cases of 3-4 people robbing one person but no cases of one person robbing 3-4 people.”

The robbers targeted elderly Chinese because they knew the old people were not only unable to resist but also were used to carrying big sums of cash, said Michael Sze, Oakland Police Department’s Neighborhood Services Coordinator for Chinatown.

“Sometimes you will be surprised by how much money these elders carry on them,” said Sze.

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