SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) – Two quick-thinking spectators jumped into action during a weekend break-in in San Francisco’s Japantown.
Jeremy Jong and Hudson Liao are co-founders of a newly formed Community Safety Group called Asians Are Strong. They had just finished a free self-defense class and were enjoying food and drink in Pa’ina when they witnessed an ongoing crime. They said they didn’t hesitate to do anything.
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The surveillance video from the restaurant shows a suspect running down Post Street with a suitcase. Moments later another follows and then a third suspect follows.
The excitement caught the attention of the Pa’ina staff across the street. Jong, who owns the restaurant, and his friend Liao immediately ran across the street – even avoiding traffic – to catch up with the thieves.
“They saw me and I followed them. They dropped the bags as soon as I raced towards them. When they dropped the bags they were pretty quick. They were already on the other side of the complex, ”Jong explained.
This happened last Sunday evening around 7:20 p.m.
“I yelled at him the whole time, ‘I’m going to get you,’ but he got away,” Liao said. “I didn’t think there was a getaway car, I was going to run away from it, and I told him I won’t stop chasing him.”
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The suspects escaped, but according to the couple with no property. Jong and Liao said they could retrieve all tourist luggage from Chicago. They said the group had a meal in Japantown before heading to the airport.
“We’re Native to San Francisco and we hate what happens to our city and we hate tourists coming here – this used to be a great place to visit, a great place to live, and it’s going downhill fast,” said Liao. “We hate that and want to make sure people come here and feel safe.”
The rise in crimes against Asian Americans inspired Liao and Jong to establish Asians Who Are Strong in March. They teach self-defense and courses for free. About two weeks ago, the group intervened at another break-in at the same location. The video of Pa’ina shows them walking towards a suspect. They said they held him until the police arrived and also retrieved the victim’s stolen bags.
“With the amount of resources that are available, there really is no excuse not to know, to speak, to do something, to assert yourself,” said Jong.
Asians are strongly told, even if you do not feel safe during a crime, if you intervene physically, it is important to be prepared and always be aware of the situation.
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“We hope it doesn’t happen to you. We hope you are never in this situation, but we also want to make sure that you don’t feel hopeless, ”Liao said.