Beaufort News

Beaufort Police say Chinese restaurant robbery probably not linked to others

There likely is no connection between the armed robbery of a Chinese restaurant in Beaufort last week and a rash of similar crimes last year that sparked the formation of a regional law-enforcement task force, Beaufort Police Chief Matt Clancy said.

Investigators from Beaufort reviewed details of Thursday's armed robbery of the China Express Restaurant on Robert Smalls Parkway with SLED investigators looking into a string of more than 25 armed robberies of Asian restaurants across the Lowcountry. They found few similarities.

"Our investigator passed on the information, and they said it does not appear to be related," Clancy said.

The Beaufort County Sheriff's Office was among a dozen county and municipal agencies to join a task force created in December by SLED and the FBI to arrest those responsible for the other robberies of Asian restaurants in the Lowcountry last year.

The Sept. 22 armed robbery of the China Wok on Shanklin Road in Burton is thought to be the only Beaufort-area robbery linked to the crime spree, according to the Sheriff's Office.

No suspects in last week's robbery have been identified, Clancy said.

Employees and witnesses told investigators two men dressed in black entered the restaurant at about 10 p.m., put on ski masks and brandished handguns. The robbers leapt over the counter, stole money from the cash register and ran out of the restaurant, according to police.

They were described as black, in their late teens or early 20s, and of medium height and weight.