Newton County Sheriff's investigators now suspect the July 15 home invasion of a local family was just one of seven such crimes committed in metro Atlanta.
NCSO Lt. Bill Watterson said the discovery was made during an East Side Investigators meeting this week.
The perpetrators are apparently targeting Asian business owners, Watterson said. So far, five families in DeKalb County and another in Fulton County have joined Newton County's Kim family as victims.
"We are going to join forces with these other agencies to identify and locate these suspects," Watterson said.
The first attack occurred in January of this year in DeKalb County. In July, the Kim family was beaten with guns and then restrained while the invaders searched the house on Concord Court. At the time, Watterson described the crime as a "very rare" true home invasion in Newton County.
The perpetrators in the six other cases have followed similar patterns. They apparently follow the families home from work before kicking down the door and restraining the victims with tape. They then ransack the house looking for hidden money.
In the Kim's case, the robbers held the family captive for 45 minutes while the house was searched.
Watterson said he suspected the robbers have targeted Asian business owners because they believe Asians do not use banks and will have their cash at their home.
"We urge all business owners to make frequent deposit in the daylight hours," Watterson said. "If you see something you think is suspicious, call 911. Or you can call a local law enforcement agency and request an escort to the bank."
Some other safety tips include not counting cash in front customers, not carrying cash in a market bag and choosing random times to deposits.
Some local business owners have offered a $1,000 reward for information leading to an arrest in the Kim's case.
If you have information about, please call Watterson at (678) 625-1446 or the NCSO at (678) 625-1403. Tips may also be given anonymously at (678) 625-5007 or on their Web site www.newtonsheriffga.org.