Man arrested in ethnic group robberies

THE WOODLANDS, TX Deputies Wednesday arrested Zuritam Antonio, 27, in connection with at least 93 home burglaries in Harris, Montgomery and Fort Bend counties. The Colombian national is apparently part of a group that targets South Asian and Middle Eastern people in public, traces them back to their homes, then breaks in and steals jewelry, gold and cash.

"They appear to be focusing on this particular culture, identifying their victims in advance and then going to their homes," said Constable Ron Hickman of Harris County Precinct 4.

Antonio is in custody, charged with a second degree felony. The search is still on for Antonio's accomplices. Police are searching pawn shops for the stolen items.

Robbers target ethnic groups in Woodlands

People in The Woodlands say they are scared after a rise in the number of home burglaries in the area. Police say the thieves appear to be targeting two specific ethnic groups.

Montgomery County authorities are investigating ten break-ins targeting Indians and Pakistanis. Three of them happened within blocks of each other.

Landsdowne is nestled in the comforts of The Woodlands, but behind the doors of the manicured lawns, there are frightening tales of what's happened here in recent weeks.

One elderly woman, who was too scared to appear on camera, told me she was eating dinner with her husband when two men broke into their home. One suspect held the couple at gunpoint, while the other shopped for valuables.

Down the street, another Indian family was targeted.

"You don't like to see something like that happen right next door," said the resident.

One neighbor saw one of the break-ins, but doesn't want to show her face.

"The people that have been targeted have been targeted because they are small business owners who tend to have money at home when they can't get it to the bank. And tend to have jewelry and things," said the neighbor.

Shaukat Zacharia of the Indo-American Chamber of Commerce helped initiate a task force to quash crime against South Asians in Fort Bend County. He says in addition to money, gold attracts thieves to Indian households.

"Our culture is to have jewelry, and to have gold, which is easily melted down and can be resold," said Zacharia.

As word of the rash of break-ins spreads in The Woodlands, people from other ethnic groups face rising fears of the same thing happening to them.

"Oh, yes, very much concerned. I'm not gonna leave anything very valuable," said resident Michiyo Unuvar.

Authorities have a very vague description of two suspects and car they've used in some of these burglaries.

Find us on Facebook® | Follow us on Twitter | More social networking
ABC13 widget | Most popular stories | Street-level weather
ABC13 wireless | Slideshow archive | Help solve crimes

Copyright © 2023 KTRK-TV. All Rights Reserved.