Fugitive captured in Taiwan who allegedly stole $3 million from kidnapped SF woman

Police returned to San Francisco from Taiwan on Friday with a fugitive accused of binding a woman with duct tape inside her Bernal Heights home and stealing $3 million more than two months ago.

Tianze Zhang, 30, arrived at San Francisco International Airport on an early morning flight. He was escorted by San Francisco police officers and the FBI on his way to county jail where he was booked on suspicion of first-degree residential burglary, kidnapping for ransom, and criminal threats.

Zhang said nothing when asked multiple questions by KTVU inside the terminal.

The harrowing episode began around 4 p.m. on March 16 when a woman was startled by the sound of an intruder insider her Bernal Heights home, authorities said. 

The woman, who was not identified, was confronted by a man wearing large ski goggles, a hood, gloves and other items obscuring his face and body. Footage from the victim’s doorbell camera shows the man before he broke into her home.

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Once inside, police say the intruder tied the woman up with duct tape and threatened to torture her with a knife. But rather than speaking, the then-unknown assailant pointed to instructions on an electronic tablet around his neck, police said. 

"She’s really shaken up. Who wouldn’t be?" said Sgt. John Hallisy, who’s been working the case for more than two months. 

After transferring nearly $3 million out of the woman’s account, the suspect disappeared. 

Police later tracked him to Kaohsiung, Taiwan and alerted authorities there. 

Investigators did not say why the suspect chose his victim or if he knew her beforehand. They did not say how they identified Zhang as a suspect.

On May 30, authorities in Taiwan took Zhang into custody and brought him to Taipei. And Sgt. Hallisy obtained an arrest warrant and flew to Taiwan to pick him up on Thursday.

"It feels good," Hallisy said. "And the long arm of the San Francisco PD reached across the Pacific Ocean is pretty good too," he said.

Evan Sernoffsky is an investigative reporter for KTVU. Email Evan at Evan.Sernoffsky@foxtv.com and follow him on Twitter @evansernoffsky.