Burglars are targeting families for their gold that is being brought to the UK and given to Asian brides as wedding gifts
Police have issued a warning to Asian families over the huge influx of criminals that could target their valuables during the summer months.
Officers fear that the number of burglaries could soar during the traditional wedding season when a large number of relatives arrive with gifts including gold for newly-married couples.
Many towns and cities are already being targetted - in Slough, for example, Asian gold thefts totalled more than 300 last year, a third of all burglary offences reported to police.
A Thames Valley Police spokesman said: 'We are worried it can only get worse with the summer season of weddings about to start, when families come over to the UK bearing gifts of gold.
'The gangs will be homing in like bees round a honeypot and we’re expecting the burglary rate to soar unless residents take sensible precautions.
'The trouble is Asian families are traditionally reluctant to put their gold and other treasures in the bank for safe keeping, preferring to keep their precious things at home.'
Police say the thefts are carried out by organised criminal gangs from overseas, London and the Midlands.
Tahir Maher, a councillor in Earley, near Reading, where there is also a high Asian population, said: “At one point last year the robberies were two a day, and people weren’t going out of their houses.
'I know someone who lost close to £50,000 of jewellery. Another lady, whose only savings were her jewellery, went out shopping, came back and found she had lost everything.”
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He said thieves had taken advantage of religious celebrations to target Asian households.
'With us, it started during Ramadan, when a lot of people were going to each others’ houses to break the fast, and then going to prayers, the houses were empty and it was a prime target for jewellery.
'People get dressed up for Eid or parties they are being invited to and put their jewellery on, so they get the jewellery out, you leave it about. The police said the thieves can go through your house in and out in 14 minutes.'
Last year over half of robberies involved gold and other jewellery stolen from Asian families
Thefts have increased as the price of gold has rocketed in recent years, going up as much as 14 per cent in 2011 to about £1,133 an ounce.
Although jewellery shops are supposed to keep a log of transactions and ask people selling gold for their ID, some unscrupulous ones do not follow the rules, according to DCI Brown.
He said: 'An unscrupulous jeweller can buy gold worth £20,000 for about £4,000 if it’s stolen.
Jewellers have also been the victims themselves of thieves, with attacks carried out on several of Slough’s 33 shops selling gold.
Another problem facing households with large amounts of valuable gold jewellery is the scarcity of deposit boxes in banks.
Coun Maher said 'When robberies were happening last summer gold was ridiculously high, my parents’ generation, any spare cash they had they would put into buying gold, and this would be an investment.
'One bank, when we pressurised them, allowed us a deposit box, but then it filled up within days.'
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