A recent rash of gang robberies of homes in Central Los Angeles and the San Fernando Valley prompted Los Angeles police Tuesday to warn residents of the Vietnamese community not to open their doors to strangers--no matter what they are told.
Detectives said there has been a sharp increase in the number of knock-and-rob attacks within the last couple of months. Although more than 50 such incidents involving Vietnamese gangs have been reported, officers said they suspect others have gone unreported by frightened victims.
Detective Raymond Paik said once the gang members are inside, they tie up the residents and threaten to kill them if they go to the police.
Lt. Jim Darr, head of the Asian Task Force, said the victims are largely immigrants who came from places "where the police were the enemy."
"We're trying to get them to trust us," he added.
Some Are Injured
Although none of the victims in the spate of assaults has been killed, said Lt. Bob Ruchhoft of the LAPD gang activities section, there have been injuries.
Ruchhoft said part of the reporting problem might be because of a culture difference that inhibits victims from calling police, but it is also possible that some Vietnamese simply do not know how to go about making a report.
LAPD spokesman Lt. Dan Cooke said the gangs invariably gain entry to a home by one ruse or another, such as having a gang member knock and claim to have found a wallet just outside. "As soon as the door is open," Cooke said, "the whole gang rushes in."
Ruchhoft said more than 20 Vietnamese gang members--most of them young adults--have been identified as suspects in the robberies and some have been arrested.