Thieves grab jew­ellery

Central Leader - - News - By Justine Glu­cina

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.

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