Thieves grab jewellery
THE INDIAN community is being warned to lock up valuables as burglars cash in on their quality jewellery.
Mt Wellington senior sergeant Brett Hjorth says the credit crunch, coupled with the price of gold doubling over the past 18 months, has led to an increase in burglaries Auckland-wide.
Indian families living in poorer suburbs are particularly vulnerable because they are easy to rob.
Generally their unmarked jewellery is 24-carat gold, given to them as a dowry or wedding present, or saved for their retirement, Mr Hjorth says.
“A lot of these families are living in lower socio-economic areas, and the jewellery is all they’ve got,” says detective Ross Clapp.
“It’s very easy to get into their houses just by kicking down a door.”
He says the jewellery is “quite clearly” coming from the Indian community because of the distinctive designs and bright patterns.
Mr Hjorth says opportunistic burglars are taking about $25,000 worth of jewellery in one hit, before taking it to bullion dealers where they could get $2000 for an ounce.
And he says it’s happening much more regularly.
“Stealing is a lucrative business. Some secondhand traders who we are aware of are certainly increasing their trade to door sales,” he says.
“It’s not just scrapmetal dealers. It’s coming over the counter.”
Mr Clapp says stealing Indian jewellery is a new trend, just like stealing copper pipes and targeting Asian women for their handbags has been increasing.
“We’re seeing it’s a problem and we don’t want to look back in six months and say we have done nothing.
“It’s obvious we’ve got a problem on our hands and we want to put the resources into it,” he says.
Police are working with three gold bullion traders in Auckland – two in Onehunga and one in Mt Eden.
Dealers are obliged under the law to keep jewellery for 14 days, after which they can dispose of it by melting it down or on-selling.
During that period they must notify the police if they believe the person who brought it in is suspicious.
If victims of burglaries come forward to police with photos of missing items, police can match them to jewellery handed in to gold bullion dealers.
“But if we’ve got nothing to identify the jewellery, then it’s gone,” Mr Clapp says.
“It’s having that trust to come forward and report it.”
Mr Hjorth says it’s important people secure their homes, even if they think their house and belongings are not worth stealing.
He says jewellery should be kept in a safe or at a bank.
“Those that haven’t had anything stolen need to be much more aware.
“If neighbours notice suspicious people, they should report it.
“Anyone who has had a theft or burglary and had jewellery taken that may not have been reported previously should contact the Mt Wellington police,” Mr Hjorth says.
Anyone who has been burgled should call 526-7345.