A gang of teenage jewellery thieves are being hunted by police after carrying out a spate of attacks against Asian residents.

Since May 1, officers have been called to 25 incidents where criminals have snatched expensive gold chains from the necks of passers-by.

Around half the attacks have taken place in the Neasden Temple area and a large number have been committed on the number 18 bus route,which runs through Sudbury,Wembley and Harlesden.

PC Pankaj Patel, of Brent Police,said: "In the past 27 days there have been 25 jewellery snatches in Brent and all have been Asian victims.

"The thieves are approaching their targets in small groups, engaging them in conversation and then ripping 24 carat gold chains from around their necks."

Police believe the thefts are linked with the recent rise in the price of gold and think all are being carried out by members of the same gang.

PC Patel added: "All of these offences have been committed between the xxxrs of 8.30am and 4pm and we are advising Asian residents to be particularly vigilant and to keep valuable jewellery hidden.

"We have already visited Neasden Temple to put a message out and we have a number of operations under-way to try and catch the culprits. There are often more officers on the beat in the problem areas"

Two men were arrested on Tuesday after CCTV footage from buses linked them to a number of attacks, but a number are still believed to be at large.

The thieves are described as black and white youths aged between 14 and 20 old.

"People of all age groups, and a mixture of men and women, are being targeted by these teenagers," added PC Patel.

"We have had one incident where a 73-year-old was robbed and suffered minor injuries to his neck."

The PC said officers still had CCTV footage to trawl through was hopeful that more arrests would be made.

"Usually once a few people have been caught the number of incidents tends to die down." 

* Any one with information sxxxld call Brent CID on 020 8733 3159 or call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.