Six Howard County businesses, including four Asian-owned restaurants, were burglarized Thursday night, according to the county’s police department.
Urban Hot Pot, Bonchon, Kung Fu Tea and Corner Bakery in Columbia and Coal Fire Pizza and East Moon Asian Bistro in Ellicott City were broken into in the overnight hours between Thursday and Friday. Money was stolen from Urban Hot Pot, Bonchon, Kung Fut Tea and East Moon Asian Bistro.
Police are investigating the incidents as commercial burglaries.
Howard County police spokesperson Sherry Llewellyn said the department believes the burglaries are connected.
Four of the restaurants — Urban Hot Pot, Bonchon, Kung Fu Tea and East Moon Asian Bistro — are Asian-owned businesses. Llewellyn said the the department is not currently investigating the burglaries as hate-bias incidents, but she said police are not ruling it out.
“Detectives suspect this is part of a larger series of burglaries in the region in which the businesses were not all Asian-owned,” wrote Llewellyn in an email. “But we are considering every possibility as we investigate these six cases from last night.”
Howard County Executive Calvin Ball released a statement via Twitter Friday afternoon that he was saddened by the burglaries, particularly because they fell on the first day of the Chinese New Year.
“Many of these restaurants are owned and operated by members of our Asian business community and feature Asian cuisine. To have these crimes occur during the beginning of Lunar New Year — a time of great celebration and joy — is additionally sad and distressing,” Ball said.
Urban Hot Pot, Bonchon and Kung Fu Tea are all on the 10100 block of Twin Rivers Road next to the Mall in Columbia, while Corner Bakery is on the 10000 block of Town Center Avenue. Coal Fire and East Moon are on the 5700 block of Richards Valley Road.