A burglary at an Asian-owned nail salon in Salt Lake City last week in which doors were smashed and a racist message spray-painted across a wall is being investigated as a hate crime, police said Monday.
Images show the phrase “f--- China” painted in black behind vandalized salon chairs, as well as damage to the front door, nail polish racks and other equipment. Police estimated there was $15,000 worth of damage. A suspect is still at large.
Sabrina Nguyen, whose parents emigrated from Vietnam and have owned WaterCreek Nails and Spa for 10 years, told NBC affiliate KSLTV that she had to explain to her mom what a hate crime was after the burglary last Thursday.
“She didn’t know what a hate crime was, so sitting down and talking to her about what a hate crime actually is definitely was a hard conversation to have and kind of a rude awakening for her,” Nguyen said. “It’s so hard to come to that conclusion that people actually look at you in a certain way and feel hatred towards you just because you’re born a certain way.”
The suspect, who police described only as male, shattered the salon’s front door with a rock, tore out security camera wires, stole “a couple hundreds dollars” from the register and ripped a sink from the wall, causing damage to both the salon and the neighboring business, Nguyen said.
A passerby called the police at around 3 a.m. after seeing the suspect leaving the scene with two other men, according to a police statement. So far, authorities said they don’t have enough details to provide an accurate description of any of the men.
Nguyen said that the responding police officer left a voicemail saying that he thought it was a suspected burglary. “When I saw that written on the wall was when the story of this definitely changed,” she added.
Nguyen posted images of the vandalism on Instagram and received thousands of likes, with others sharing similar experiences of hate crimes in the comments.
“It feels like these things go underreported because people are afraid of retaliation or any barrier they have,” she said. “I want to make sure that people know, if these things happen to you, there is support out there and there are people that are going to help you.”
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