SOUTH SACRAMENTO — Almost every day you can find Khou Her taking her regular afternoon stroll through her Meadowview neighborhood, but since the beginning of September, things have been different in her part of Sacramento.
“We’re scared too,” she said.
What’s brought fear to the streets she’s loved walking for 30 years?
“So about eight weeks ago we started noticing an increase in robberies that were occurring and they were primarily Asian victims that we were seeing,” said Sacramento police Det. Eddie Macauley.
Waving her arm down 29th Street, Khou Her has no trouble pointing out how close harm has come to where she lives.
Investigators say in the spike in South Sac robberies they’ve tracked recently, armed robbers were approaching their victims between 4 p.m. and 3 a.m. — taking cash, cell phones and other personal property.
“So it’s not particularly one individual or one group of people. It’s a trend,” said Macauley.
A similar spike in such crimes prompted a meeting between the community and police in October 2016.
That streak was tied to thieves mistakenly following the smell of pot to houses that didn’t actually have grows but then committing robberies anyway.
As for the current increase, “what we’ve seen recently has nothing to do with marijuana,” said Macauley.
That’s one of the few things detectives have been able to pin down about the latest string of robberies, but aside from area and time of day little else is fitting any pattern.
“We’re not entirely sure why this is the group that’s being victimized,” offered Macauley.
One theory is that some thieves believe Asians keep more money on hand.
It’s a disturbing uncertainty for Her, who is Hmong, and the neighbors she’s had for decades.
Sacramento police kept cameras out of their latest meeting updating the community, in hopes that any unreported victims would feel comfortable enough to come forward.
Community-motivated extra security measures helped shut down last year’s robbery streak.
“We were able to purchase PODS, police operated devices, that we were able to strategically locate along Stockton Boulevard,” said Frank Louie, the executive director of the Stockton Boulevard Property Business Improvement District.
Sacramento officers hope efforts like that continue, along with homeowners increasing lighting around their property and being willing to report cars or people lurking in their neighborhoods.
As for the department, “we’re doing direct enforcement so there are officers being brought in on an overtime basis to specifically combat this issue,” said Macauley.
Since language barriers often prevent people from calling 911 to report a crime, officers want to remind the public that they can dial and say something as simple “help Mandarin” or “help Cantonese,” to get connected to a translator in the middle of your emergency.