Police alert Asian communities amid surge in gold thefts

There have been 19 incidents in the Eastleigh area and Southampton this year

Gold carries significant emotional meaning for numerous Asian families (iStock)

By: Pramod Thomas

POLICE have issued a warning to Asian communities in response to a string of burglaries targeting family gold.

According to Hampshire police, there have been 19 incidents in the Eastleigh area and Southampton this year.

Gold carries significant emotional meaning for numerous Asian families, frequently handed down through successive generations.

One victim, Preeti Nayyar, told the BBC that two men had stolen her jewellery worth £20,000 from her bedroom.

“I was in a deep sleep, when I opened my eyes and saw two burglars going through my wardrobe. I screamed and they ran down the stairs,” she was quoted as saying.

“I think they were very prepared. I feel they had an eye on the house. I think those targeting Asian households definitely do their homework. They didn’t take any other valuables, they were after the gold.”

After the break-in, she had transported her remaining gold jewellery to her mother in India, believing it to be more secure there than in the UK.

According to Chief Inspector Matt Paling, Eastleigh District Commander, the thefts were ‘a very organised crime’.

“We have seen an increase in high-value gold theft, I want to reassure the community we are doing everything we can and to remain vigilant,” Paling, who last month visited Southampton’s Vedic Society Hindu Temple to offer people support and advice, said

“We need to reduce this crime. I don’t want people to become victims of this, I want them to listen to our crime prevention advice.”

He revealed that criminals melt the jewellery to make it’ unidentifiable’ using devices bought online.

Neeraj Shah, from Camberley, Surrey, was a victim of theft a few years ago. Following the incident, he set up a neighbourhood watch scheme to protect his local community.

“We text each other if we see any suspicious activity, like cold-callers or any cars parked here – we take down registration numbers. I believe it is deterring crime,” Shah told the BBC.

Hampshire police urged residents to take precautions with their valuables, suggesting they store gold in secure places like a bank or safety deposit box, and consider installing home CCTV cameras.

According to BBC, Dorset Police said there were eight burglaries from January to March this year, resulting in nearly £90,000 worth of stolen gold. In 2023, there were 13 incidents, with over £330,000 worth of gold stolen.

Surrey Police reported 23 gold burglary incidents from January to April this year, amounting to more than £110,000 worth of gold stolen. In the previous year, the force responded to 36 incidents, involving around £25,000 worth of stolen gold.

Between March 25 and April 21, Nottinghamshire Police recorded an increase in the number of burglaries targeting Asians. The force increased proactive hotspot patrols in affected areas.

Yvonne Pickersgill, crime prevention officer, Nottinghamshire Police, said, “We would advise anyone with expensive jewellery in their homes to ensure it is locked away in a high-quality safe that is anchored in place and complies with insurance rating standards.

“If you leave your home, please remember to lock your doors and windows, put valuable items out of sight, and remove objects from outside your property that could be used to gain entry.”