WAKE FOREST, North Carolina (WTVD) -- Authorities in Wake Forest are investigating an armed robbery that is similar to a series of violent home invasions targeting Asian business owners that have occurred over the last several years.
The latest incident happened around 9:30 p.m. Thursday in the 3100 block of Falconhurst Drive.
Police say a family had just returned home after closing their store in Raleigh when three masked gunmen robbed them at gunpoint of cash.
The suspects were last seen fleeing on foot.
According to the victims, all three suspects were wearing masks and dark clothing; however, they are believed to be men, police said.
The suspects got away with Chinese gold coins, jewelry and an iPhone 7.
"I live here 20 years and this is the first real incident I've heard," Patricia Heyman, a neighbor added.
It marks the first time since December 2014 robbers have targeted Asian business owners in Wake Forest after watching them to determine when they arrived home after closing their businesses for the night.
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Police Chief Jeff Leonard urges all area residents to be aware of their surroundings, especially business owners during closing time.
Anyone who believes they may have information concerning this incident is encouraged to call the Police Department at (919)554-6150. All calls are confidential.
"This time of year and throughout the year, to just always be aware of your surroundings. Whenever you're getting out of your car to go into the house, have your key ready. But always be aware of what's going on around you," Wake Forest Public Information Officer Bill Crabtree said.
Police are also offering these safety tips:
-Always be aware of your surroundings and the people who are around you.
-If you have a cell phone, carry it with you when walking or driving and be prepared to use it to call 911 for help. Be prepared to give your exact location to the emergency operator.
-Don't walk or jog early in the morning or late at night when the streets are deserted.
-When out at night, try to have a friend walk with you.
-Carry only the money you'll need on a particular day.
-Don't display your cash or any other inviting targets such as pagers, cell phones, hand-held electronic games, or expensive jewelry and clothing.
-If you think someone is following you, switch directions or cross the street. If the person continues to follow you, move quickly toward an open store or restaurant or a lighted house. Don't be afraid to yell for help.
-Try to park in well-lighted areas with good visibility and close to walkways, stores, and people.
-Make sure you have your key out as you approach your door.
-Always lock your car, even if it's in your own driveway; never leave your motor running.
-Do everything you can to keep a stranger from getting into your car or to keep a stranger from forcing you into his or her car.
-If someone tries to rob you, give up your property-don't give up your life.
-If you are robbed or assaulted, report the crime to the police. Try to describe the attacker accurately. Your actions can help prevent someone else from becoming a victim.
Wake Forest police investigating armed robbery similar to crimes targeting Asian business owners