Asian business owners in Vestal apparently are being targeted by thieves who break into their homes.

Town police have issued a crime alert following a series of residential burglaries in Vestal over the past six months.

Lieutenant Christopher Streno said a woman surprised three masked men who had broken into her home around 3 p.m. Friday.

Streno told WNBF News the intruders fled into a nearby parked car and drove away. The woman was not hurt but the men stole a "substantial amount" of cash.

The incident happened in the Stair Tract in the eastern section of the town.

Streno said this was the fifth burglary of an Asian restaurant owner's home in Vestal since July. Although the people being targeted live in Vestal, they operate businesses throughout Broome County.

This type of crime aimed at those who operate Asian restaurants and other businesses has been on the rise in Pennsylvania, New Jersey and other states. Similar incidents have been reported in parts of upstate New York.

Streno said the thieves have stolen cash and jewelry in the Vestal break-ins. Although the cases in the town have so far been limited to the owners of restaurants, he said other Asian-owned businesses like nail salons have been targeted elsewhere.

Vestal police are issuing the alert to make residents and business owners aware of what's been happening.

People are being encouraged to be aware of their surroundings at work, while traveling and at home. They also are urged not to keep large amounts of cash or jewelry at home.

The suspects in the Vestal burglaries are believed to be from outside the area.

Those with information about the recent crimes may contact the Vestal police detective division at (607) 754-2477.

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