Downtown nail spa broken into, hate speech spray-painted on the wall

Dec 10, 2023, 10:17 PM | Updated: Dec 11, 2023, 3:13 pm

SALT LAKE CITY — The owners of WaterCreek Nails and Spa said a break-in resulted in thousands of dollars worth of damage, but the hate speech left behind made the situation worse.

Sabrina Nguyen, whose parents own the nail salon, said someone broke in early Thursday.

“We were lucky enough to have someone outside actually walking their dog and had seen this happen,” Nguyen said. “She was very brave and actually went to go check it out. The man came up to her, asked her for some vodka … she did call the police.”

Front door shattered

Nguyen said the vandal used a large rock to shatter the front door and then the person went through the front desk.

“Ripped apart all the wires that’s connected to the security cameras … he even went through the drawers and grabbed a couple hundred dollars,” she said.

Nguyen said a sink was ripped from the wall, which caused flooding that leaked to the businesses next door.

“It damaged the chairs and the electrical work on the pedicure chairs,” she said.

Watercreek nail salon hate crime. (KSL TV) Watercreek nail salon hate crime. (KSL TV) Watercreek nail salon hate crime. (KSL TV) Watercreek nail salon hate crime. (KSL TV) Watercreek nail salon hate crime. (KSL TV) The owners of WaterCreek Nails and Spa said a break-in resulted in thousands of dollars worth of damage, but the hate speech left behind made the situation worse. (KSL TV)

The vandal knocked over the nail technicians’ carts, broke several pieces of equipment and spray-painted the pedicure chairs, walls and cabinets. When Nguyen got the call from police, she said she prepared herself for a mess. She said what she saw was much worse.

“Per the voicemail of the suspected police officer, he said there was a suspected burglary, that’s what he thought it was,” she said.

A hate message was spray painted in large, black letters on the wall.

“When I saw that written on the wall was when the story of this definitely changed,” she said.

A difficult conversation

Nguyen’s parents immigrated to the U.S. from Vietnam. She said they’ve owned the salon for 10 years without an issue. And she said she had to have a difficult conversation with her mother after the vandalism.

“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.

She said the message felt like a personal attack.

“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,” she said.

She said her family is sharing their story so other people can be warned.

“It feels like these things go underreported because people are afraid of retaliation or any barrier they have. 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.”

Nguyen said since she posted pictures detailing the incident on her Instagram, her family has received so much support from the community.

“It’s given them motivation to make this place a better place to be and make everything so much nicer, and they want to give back to the community. We’re planning on doing a day when we reopen to do 50% off for a couple of days.”

She said they want to reopen in the next couple of months, but they’re facing shipping and repair delays that have been made worse by the holidays.

“The delays come from the shipping of equipment,” Nguyen said. “We have to replace the majority of the things in here.”

Nguyen said the priority is sealing their front door. She said they haven’t been able to book an appointment yet because companies and contractors are busy through the holidays.

The salon is accepting donations through Venmo: Kim-801.*

On Monday, the Salt Lake City Police Department confirmed it is investigating the incident as a hate crime. The suspect left the area with two other men. Police said the description of the three men was not specific enough for release but detectives were working to identify them.

Anyone with information on this case was asked to call police at 801-799-3000 and reference case No. 23-274253.

Nationally, the Council on American-Islamic Relations released the following statement:

We express the Muslim community’s solidarity with Asian-Americans in Utah in response to this hateful incident. No Americans should face bias-motivated attacks or intimidation. Elected officials and community leaders must speak out more forcefully against the rising level of hatred and division we are witnessing nationwide.

*KSL TV does not assure that the money deposited to the account will be applied for the benefit of the persons named as beneficiaries. If you are considering a deposit to the account, you should consult your own advisors and otherwise proceed at your own risk.

If you or someone you know has recently experienced any form of a hate crime, call 911 if the crime is in progress. Otherwise, hate crimes can be reported to a local non-emergency police line, or the FBI at 1(800) 225-5324, (801) 579-1400 (Utah FBI field office), or tips.fbi.gov. 

Additional Resources:

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Downtown nail spa broken into, hate speech spray-painted on the wall