Highly organized thieves are targeting the homes of Asian business owners, stealing more than $1.5 million in cash and goods in the past 10 months, according to Ottawa police.
Since October 2013, 38 restaurant, shop and nail salons owners have been burglarized, said Staff-Sgt. Kal Ghadban.
"Right now, the theory we're following is that it's an organized crime group," Ghadban said.
"It's not ad hoc. They're doing their research on who it is they're looking for and they're getting background to ensure, number one, that nobody is home and also to ensure that they're not walking away empty-handed. Every house that they're hitting, they're walking away with large sums of cash."
Ghadban said it's possible that thieves are monitoring business owners before breaking and entering. It appears the thieves pinpoint successful businesses, figure out where the owner lives and breaks in during work hours when no one is home.
"The fact that they know where their business is and they know where their home is, there's a connection," he said.
Most of the businesses are in Chinatown, which have many owners in the neighbourhood on edge.
"That could happen to anyone in Chinatown," said Thanh Ha, owner of My Sweet Tea. "They work hard for their money, and the next thing it's all gone. That's shocking."
Ghadban believes there could be more victims.
"We do know from the community that there have been several break-ins that have gone unreported," Ghadban said.
Anyone who believes they have been targeted by the crime ring or who has information about the case is asked to contact Ottawa police.