Shop Owners React to String of Burglaries

Shop Owners React to String of Burglaries

Sheriff's Office coordinates investigation with Leesburg and Maryland.

Until Sunday, April 27, Jin Chun felt "complacent" in the Ashburn Farm neighborhood where he manages his parents' business, Nagoya Japanese Steak and Seafood. "When something like this happens, you think maybe I should get a security system, not leave so much money in the cash box. You start losing trust," he said.

The restaurant was part of a series of burglaries that occurred during that weekend. Seven burglaries took place in Lovettsville, Hamilton, Ashburn and Waterford at restaurants, stores and a Texaco station.

"We are still looking into whether these burglaries are related," said Kraig Troxell, public information officer for the Sheriff's Office, adding that the burglaries were similar in how the suspects entered the buildings and removed cash or took entire cash registers. "At this point, we have a number of leads we are following up on. In one instance, we have video evidence we are working with."

Two investigators are working on the case and with other jurisdictions, including Leesburg, Frederick County and Brunswick, Md., to determine if the Loudoun burglaries are related to other cases that are similar in nature.

"I don't think of this as a horrible crime stream. I don't expect to see this happen again," Chun said. "Things happen in life. That's how I deal with it."

AT ABOUT 8:30 A.M. Sunday, Fairfax County deputies knocked on the door of Chun's Chantilly residence and told him the restaurant Charles and Mary Chun opened in April 2002 had been broken into during the night. Shortly thereafter, Chun met with two Loudoun County deputies at the crime scene. They showed him where the front glass area had been destroyed and the cash register thrown onto the floor to remove the contents.

The restaurant was scheduled to open at 4 p.m., so Chun called a glass company and had to wait until Monday to get the cash register replaced, deciding to buy a security system.

"Crime is crime. It happens," said Chun, adding that he had been previously mugged by gun point. "You can't let it get to you."

Even so, Chun could commiserate with the owner of Hershey's Ice Cream Shop, which is located in the same Ashburn Farm Shopping Plaza as the Chuns' restaurant.

"It's not just, 'Why me?' but that it happens to others," Chun said. "I'm not happy other people were victimized along with me, but it wasn't just me, myself and I that was victimized by this."

Chun expects that his insurance rates will increase as a result of the burglary. "It's not a single event for me," he said. "It's reoccurring because I'm going to have to deal with the consequences of their action."

FOR SAM HAPAMI, manager of the family-owned Hershey's Ice Cream Shop, the burglary occurred just before the busiest day of the week on Sunday.

"You don't know what you need to do first, clean up or help customers," said Hapami, who lives in Gainesville. "The people coming into the store buying ice cream were very patient ... and trying to be helpful."

By the end of the day, the owners replaced the glass that had been broken out of the front door and one of two cash registers that were damaged.

"I was shocked. I was like, 'Wow.' It made me really upset," Hapami said. "Something like that in a good neighborhood shocked me. The people are nice. The neighborhood is nice. ... It wasn't a matter of how much money they had taken. It was a matter of them making the effort."

Anyone with information regarding any of the burglaries is asked to call the Criminal Investigations Division at 703-777-0475.