Suspicious Burglary of Shen Yun Choreographer’s House

Award-winning dancer Chen Yungchia has been a principal dancer and one of Shen Yun’s key choreographers since he joined the company in 2007. On the evening of August 22, he returned from work at Shen Yun’s New York headquarters to his nearby home in Otisville to find that it had been ransacked. Gone were two laptops and a DVD player that looked like a computer. Not stolen, however, were an expensive watch, gold jewelry, as well as his passport and green card.

Chen believes the break-in was carried out by agents of the Chinese Communist Party, or someone hired by them, and had two purposes:

First, the robbers (or robber) were not after money but after information – most likely inside information about Shen Yun. Sensitive data might include lists of performers, especially those with PRC nationality and family back in China, or industry secrets such as Shen Yun’s special digital projection effects. They might also have been after hints of his upcoming choreography projects; PRC-based performing arts companies have been known to stage programs with themes similar to Shen Yun’s shortly after Shen Yun produces them.

Second, Chen told me he thinks the daytime break-in was also meant to send a message – we are watching you! He found his belongings strewn all over almost as if to scare him. They entered through a back window that does not face the street and also seemed to know the exact date to break in. Normally his son would have been home from school for the summer, but that particular day he was attending dance camp.

Perhaps Chen and his family were fortunate not to be home. The incident is reminiscent of a break-in that took place in 2006 in an Atlanta suburb. Dr. Peter Yuan Li, a Falun Gong practitioner and technology specialist who was part of a team working to free China’s Internet through proxy servers, was beaten in his home as Asian robbers went exclusively after his computers and documents. They left his daughter’s jewelry and camcorder, and left Dr. Li with 15 stitches.

According to the Forbes article “When All Else Fails: Threats”:

“The two first men who pushed their way into his home in the Atlanta suburb were armed with a knife and gun and spoke Korean, Li tells Forbes. But once they had taped his eyes and bound him, Li says he heard another one or two men enter his house. One of these men spoke to him in Mandarin and demanded to know where he kept his “locker” and documents. The intruders ransacked the house and forced open locked file cabinets. After the men left, Li was able to escape into the street, where a neighbor was able to help him and call the police.”

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