LONDON: Burglars armed with metal detectors and intimate knowledge of the purity of gold have been targeting houses belonging to people with origins in the Indian sub-continent, who traditionally preserve gold jewellery in the family for generations.
Reports of many houses belonging to the Asian community being burgled have prompted the police and local councillors to launch special awareness campaign in various towns across Britain, such as Birmingham, Slough, Ealing, Leicester, Reading and Bradford.
The rising price of gold is a major reason for the spurt in burglaries for the yellow metal.
Jewellery stored in Asian houses is considered to be of higher purity, and thus more valuable. Despite tighter security, stolen jewellery finds its way into the flourishing resale market.
Besides houses, hundreds of jewellery shops have also been targeted often in Leicester, Birmingham and Manchester.
The price of gold is currently 1,100 pounds for an ounce.
In Leicester, Belgrave Road, better known as 'Little India' and 'Golden Mile' due to the large number of jewellery shops there, has witnessed several burglaries in the recent past, leading to major losses and upgraded security by the business community and the police.
Vikas Tandon, a resident of Reading whose house was burgled recently, told The Guardian: "A few watches and a BlackBerry were taken, but they were looking for gold. They seemed to know where to look – I am confident they used metal detectors".
He added: "There were bowls of jewellery in one of the rooms, with real gold and artificial jewellery mixed in together. They only took the gold, so they knew what they were looking for."
Tahir Maher, councillor in Earley, Berkshire, said: "A lot of residents have been very badly affected. It started in the summer. It is very much Asian families who are being targeted. There is a lot of mistrust. This has cost the community a lot."
Last week, four masked men armed with hammers forced their way into Ram Jewellers in Leicester, and escaped with gold bangles and rings.