Restaurant Robbery Spree

By Rio Bauce
Friday December 21, 2007

Over the last few weeks, a series of takeover-style robberies hitting almost exclusively Asian restaurants around the Bay Area, including one in Berkeley, six in Oakland, two in Albany, one in El Cerrito, one in San Leandro, one in Richmond, and one in Union City, may be connected, police believe.  

In Berkeley, the incident occurred at King Tsin Restaurant, a Chinese restaurant located at 1699 Solano Ave. in North Berkeley, at 7 p.m. on Dec. 10. 

“This is the first time that this has ever happened to us,” said Albert Lou, owner of King Tsin, which has been open for more than 40 years. “I saw two teenagers walking toward the store and I knew right away, when I saw them, that something was wrong. They were carrying guns in their hands. One immediately came over to me and demanded some money. The other went to the customers and asked them to put their money on the table. I immediately gave him the $200 from the register and he took it. They also took a little over $300 from the customers. It was a really shocking experience.”  

Sgt. Mary Kusmiss, a spokeswoman for the Berkeley Police Department, said that police are pursuing leads and are hopeful. 

“It’s surprising that they got away with so much money,” she said.  

Lou said that they have been taking extra security precautions following the event. 

“Right after they left, we, of course, called 9-1-1,” he said. “I then went over to the tables and made sure everyone was okay. Soon after, I held an employee meeting where we discussed how to deal with such an incident if it happened again. I also spoke with the president of the Solano Avenue Association and several merchants about the situation.”  

The suspects are described by police as two black men in their late teens, with dark blue or black jeans or pants and dark black or blue hoodies, wrapped around their face to conceal their identity. 

Kusmiss also mentioned that a similar incident occurred on Aug. 17. 

“In this situation, someone robbed a Chinese restaurant located at 1580 Hopkins St. in a similar way to the Solano incident but with different suspect descriptions,” said Kusmiss. “There were 30 employees present and over $600 was taken.” 

The Berkeley police are advising anybody with any information about the case to contact them at 981-5900.