Two Charlotte locations of a national bubble tea chain were broken into a day apart, costing the owner close to $3,000 in damages.
Kung Fu Tea Charlotte said Saturday they had some “sad news” to share after their stores on Providence Road and South Boulevard were broken into and vandalized last week.
“It’s very unfortunate for us as small business owners,” the restaurant said. “At this time, we ask for your love and support simply by visiting us. The windows may be broken, but our service and Boba are not.”
Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department spokesperson Thomas W. Hildebrand told McClatchy News the break-ins are under investigation but did not say if they were racially motivated.
“Any possible connection is always a part of the investigation, but it would be too premature at this point to say one way or the other if they are connected,” he said.
Bubble tea, also commonly referred to as Boba tea, originated in Taiwan and has exploded in popularity in recent years. The milk tea drink contains chewy pearls of tapioca that come in different flavors.
Kung Fu Tea was founded in New York by Taiwanese entrepreneur Allen Wang and his friends, according to the Bite Club at NYU. The chain now has more than 200 locations across the U.S.
Vinh Le, the owner and operator of both Kung Fu Tea locations in Charlotte, told McClatchy News the break-ins occurred between 1 a.m. and 2 a.m. on April 13 and 14. He said they later found out other stores in the area were also hit.
“With regards to any suspicion of targeting or a hate crime — I don’t think that’s the case,” Le said.
The first break-in occurred at Kung Fu Tea on Providence Road, according to a police report. About $600 worth of damages to the front door were reported and a cash register valued at $100 was stolen. There was about $250 in cash in the register, police said.
Le said the security cameras were out, so they didn’t have a good idea as to when it happened until their second location was hit the next day.
Kung Fu Tea on South Boulevard was broken into between 1:40 a.m. and 2 a.m. on April 14, according to the police report. The break-in caused $2,000 worth of damages to the front door and a cash register valued at $100 was stolen.
“What they didn’t expect is that the second time they went through it, we had already taken the cash out,” Le told McClatchy News.
The security system was also working this time, giving police a better description of the suspect. Le said it was a man wearing a hood and mask who was about 5’9” or 5’10” tall with a medium athletic build. The footage showed him break through the front door, hop the counter, grab the cash register and leave through the back door, Le said.
He was reportedly in and out in under a minute.
“It’s a nuisance, it’s annoying, it’s infuriating that it happened,” Le said, “but that didn’t stop us from continuing to operate.”
He told McClatchy News Kung Fu Tea has seen an outpouring of support from the Charlotte community since they posted about the break-ins.
“Although mentally and emotionally it hasn’t done much to me, it’s always really nice to see that there are people behind us,” Le said.
Attacks on Asian-Americans have been on the rise nationwide. In March, eight people — six whom were Asian-American women — were shot and killed in Atlanta by a gunman targeting massage businesses.
A 24-year-old man was also arrested in Charlotte earlier this month after police said he trashed a Korean-owned convenience store with a metal post while yelling racial slurs. Xavier Rashee Woody-Silas was charged with robbery with a dangerous weapon, communicating threats, disorderly conduct, injury to personal property and resisting a public officer.