Chinatown bakery owners devastated by brazen burglary

Young woman heartbroken after thieves steal wads of cash from Chinatown family business
Surveillance video outside Chinatown Cultural Plaza (Image: Jolene Lau)
Surveillance video outside Chinatown Cultural Plaza (Image: Jolene Lau)
(Image: Jolene Lau)
(Image: Jolene Lau)
(Image: Jolene Lau)
(Image: Jolene Lau)

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - A family is heartbroken after thieves broke into their Chinatown business Monday night and got away with wads of cash.

"Just knowing that people will just break-in, in 20 minutes just wreck your life, just like that, and all the hard work you've done, it's devastating," said Jolene Lau.

Lau, 20, is the manager of Cafe Sasa by Regal Bakery on North Beretania Street. She said she and her family work hard for their money; sometimes they start as early as 2 a.m.

The bakery and plaza closed around 10 p.m. that night and the thieves are seen on security cameras about an hour after that. Surveillance video shows a group of males with t-shirts wrapped around their faces outside Chinatown Cultural Plaza jumping over the fence.

There are cameras inside the plaza, but Lau said apparently not all were working that night, so the actual break-in wasn't caught on camera.

The thieves were in and out in about 20 minutes and got away with tips, laptops, and a cash register full of money.

Lau got the phone call from police around midnight.

"They called me and they said, 'someone broke into the store.' And I started crying because this is more than a store to me…it's my second home," Lau said.

The criminals got away with about $1,000 and left about $2,000 more in damages.

"I wasn't thinking about the money. I was just thinking about how hard I work here. I spend over 10 hours a day here just trying to get customers to come. And I love this place and I love everything I put out," she said.

The on-duty security guard was able to snap some photos of the thieves and police were able to recover some of the stolen items at a nearby park, but the criminals are still on the run.

Chinatown advocates say crime isn't getting better and they need more help.

"We need the city and we need the police to pay more attention here," said Chu Lan Shubert-Kwock, President of Chinatown Business & Community Association.

"I would say that it doesn't hurt to increase security…but it cost money. So people need to invest in this part. But they also need to be ensured that we can rely on our police, the police are making their rounds," Shubert-Kwock said.

Lau is back to work and said this won't stop her from doing what she loves.

Anyone with any leads on the suspects call CrimeStoppers at 955-8300.

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