Sought: Suspected armed thieves targeting Vietnamese-owned biz

SEATTLE -- Police are looking for two men suspected in a series of increasingly-violent armed robberies targeting Vietnamese-owned businesses in South Seattle.

The most recent incident occurred Saturday evening. Armed thieves held up a nail salon at Rainier Avenue South and South Findlay. They forced the workers to the back of the store and tied them up before robbing them.

"He told me, 'Hey, I want all you guys walk to the back with me,' " said owner Mai Nguyen. "I said, 'why you want me to walk to the back with you?'... he says, 'I got a gun.'"

Victim Nasyrokh Sales was praying.

"They can take everything from me, that's fine, but I want to keep my life," Sales said.

Nguyen says she told the robbers she didn't work there when asked where her purse was, but it turns out her purse was hidden in the other room. She says she had a dream Friday night that she was robbed, so for the first time in 20 years, she hid her money in the store that day.

But later she worried the thieves would find her purse and get mad that she lied, so she started faking a heart attack.

"I laid down and said, 'I couldn't breathe.. Heh me...' and I laid down," Nguyen said.

The robbers fell for it. Unnerved, they got her some water, and then left.

Police believe the Saturday robbery was the fourth the men had done in the past two weeks.

The first robbery occurred on Nov. 16 at Venus Seafood Restaurant located at Martin Luther King, Jr. Way and S. Myrtle Street. Investigators said a thief pulled a gun on the owner and demanded cash. He then fled in a two-door Honda Civic driven by a second man.

The Spring Roll House Deli was hit two days later. Two thieves pulled a gun on six women working inside the restaurant, located on 12th Avenue and South Main Street. They took cash and jewelry, then forced the women into a bathroom and warned them not to call the police before fleeing.

The thieves hit a hair salon near Venus on Nov. 22, again forcing a group of women into a bathroom, zip-tying their hands and robbing them at gunpoint. They got away with cash and jewelry.

Police have released sketches of the suspects, who are both believed to be in their 30s, about 5-foot-7 or 5-foot-8 and between 150 and 160 pounds. Investigators have also released images captured by surveillance cameras at or near the scenes of the crime.

Anyone with information on the men's identity or whereabouts is urged to call the Seattle Police Department's Robbery Unit at 206-684-5540.