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SFPD Warns Asian Merchants Of Chinese Lunar New Year Crime

SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS) – The Chinese Lunar New Year starts on February 3 and San Francisco police are warning Asian merchants to look out for criminals that target them at this time of the year.

The celebration is a customary time of gift exchange, which is why Asian stores are seen as targets by criminals.

"Something that's a common custom during the Lunar New Year is the exchanging of red envelopes," said Cindy Brandon of the group SAFE. "Typically there's cash in there. When people see that, they know that there's cash in these red envelopes."

KCBS' Anna Duckworth Reports:

SAFE, which stands for Safety Awareness For Everyone, has teamed up with the San Francisco Police Department to make businesses more aware of Lunar New Year crime.

This week's campaign started in Chinatown and has moved to districts like the Bayview and Ingleside.

Police Captain Greg Suhr works out of the Bayview Station and said these are areas that now also have prominently Asian merchants.

"As we move into the Chinese New Year, we have a certain amount of problems as we always have in Chinatown that have moved into the outlying districts," Suhr said. "Extortion and influence and robbery."

Merchants are being encouraged to report any crime or suspicious activity and have been discouraged from carrying or displaying cash and valuables.

(© 2011 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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