Serial Burglar Sentenced in Chinatown Break-ins

During October and November of 2010, 12 homes in Chinatown were burglarized, often in the early pre-dawn hours while residents slept in their beds. The thief made off with credit cards, cell phones, laptops and other electronics, taking advantage of buildings with unlocked front doors, according to court records.

Last week, 24-year-old Kenneth Harden-Smith was sentenced to up to eight years in prison, on two second-degree counts: burglary, and burglary as a hate crime. His arrest, along with that of accused conspirator Irving Walker, ended a string of crimes Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance said were specifically aimed at Chinese-Americans. In court records, Harden-Smith “admitted to selecting the victims in Chinatown because of his strong dislike for Chinese people,” according to the DA’s office.

“The defendant’s bias-related burglaries didn’t just hurt the victims he stole from – he instilled fear throughout the Chinatown community,” Vance said in a prepared statement. “My office’s Hate Crimes Unit will continue to support and protect New York’s diverse communities by aggressively investigating and prosecuting hate-motivated crimes.”

About half the homes targeted by Harden-Smith were in the 100 and 200 blocks of Madison Street, while others were sprinkled throughout Chinatown on Catherine, Henry, Monroe, Forsyth and Eldridge streets. In statements to police, Harden-Smith admitted invading roughly 40 homes overall, taking items from about 20 of them.

Harden-Smith pleaded guilty to the two counts on Feb. 1. In addition to the prison time, he was sentenced to five-years of post-release supervision.