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4 Men Invade Home, Escape With $10,000 : Robbery: Gunmen tie up Santa Ana family and ransack house for cash and jewelry in the second such attack in three days.

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TIMES STAFF WRITER

For one terrifying hour Friday, four brutal strangers ruled the Tran home.

They snipped electrical cords and used them to tie up Ho Tran and Hien Truong and their two daughters under a suffocating heap of clothes. Screaming profanities in Vietnamese, the robbers ransacked the two-story home in the 300 block of Amy Common for $10,000 in cash and jewelry. Apparently angry there wasn’t more, they stabbed Tran in the buttock and pistol-whipped Truong.

“I was afraid they were going to kill us,” said their daughter, 25-year-old Ha Tran, rubbing raw marks where her wrists had been bound.

The home-invasion robbery, in daylight and in the confines of a gated community, was the second such attack in Santa Ana in three days and marked the latest in what has become a familiar crime within the Asian immigrant community.

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Most often, robbers target members of their own community, police say, in the belief that many newcomers keep money and valuables at home instead of the bank. More than 150 such attacks have been reported in Santa Ana, Westminster and Garden Grove since 1991.

The attack on the Tran home fit the pattern. The four suspects, described as Vietnamese men ages 18 to 30, crashed in at 8:30 a.m., the hour when Ho Tran customarily opens his garage door.

The 64-year-old retiree had stepped outside to water his lawn, police said. When he went back inside, three men burst in too, brandishing weapons and shouting at Ho Tran and his wife to give them money and jewelry. A fourth man joined in as a lookout as the three others ransacked the first floor, tipping over plants and tossing off sofa cushions--even dipping to the bottom of family’s fish tank.

“ ‘Where’s the money and the diamonds?’ I said I don’t have no money,” recalled Truong, 55, still bleeding two hours later from being pistol-whipped on the back of her head.

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The gunmen ordered the couple upstairs, where the two were gagged and their wrists and ankles were bound with electrical cord. As the pair lay curled on the floor in their bedroom, their daughters also were bound and dragged into the room. The robbers tore clothes from closets and dressers in their search, burying the family under a layer so thick Truong said she could barely breathe.

The men found Ho Tran’s wallet and Truong’s purse, taking $4,000 that the couple said they had planned to send to relatives in Vietnam and use to pay bills. They also seized a handgun and stripped family members of another $6,000 in jewelry.

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The robbers demanded more, threatening him with the knife, Ho Tran said. He dodged one thrust at his throat. A second penetrated his right buttock.

“They interrogated me for money. That’s when they stabbed,” he said in Vietnamese through an interpreter. “Everybody was beaten.”

The hourlong ordeal ended when the men fled in a car. Ho Tran managed to free himself and ran outside for help. A neighbor called police. Police said a witness reported seeing a suspicious car, but no arrests had been made Friday afternoon.

Friends and other family members arrived to offer support and help clean up. Overturned drawers and clothing still covered the floors, along with pieces of electrical cord. Truong said she was afraid to be in the house.

Her husband disagreed.

“I have nothing left to fear,” he said. “They got everything.”

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