A staggering £50 million worth of gold and jewellery was stolen from communities across London in the previous financial year, Metropolitan Police has revealed.
The data, released on Wednesday (October 18), found that 3,463 offences were committed in the financial year of 2016/17 where gold or jewellery was stolen from Asian families.
With the extent of family gold theft being highlighted by the Metropolitan Police, officers are now warning Londoners to guard against gangs of thieves.
Officers particularly warned families to be on their guard during Diwali celebrations , a five-day festival of light that takes place from Thursday (October 19).
Through Operation Nugget, Metropolitan Police seeks to drive down the numbers of theft offences and bring more perpetrators to justice through a series of different initiatives.
Detective Superintendent Jane Corrigan, the Met's lead for the operation, is spearheading a multi-pronged approach to tackle the problem of gold crime by addressing the issues on a series of different fronts.
Detective Superintendent Corrigan said that, although the force is taking “proactive measures” to tackle the theft, Londoners should still safeguard their possessions.
"Gold will continue to be highly desired by criminals due to the speed and anonymity with which it can be exchanged for large sums of cash,” she said.
"These pieces of gold and jewellery are not just valuable possessions, they are also of great sentimental worth, and if stolen, would have a huge impact on owners.
"Our proactive measures to tackle these crimes have seen reductions in offences, however, there is more to be done.
"As part of this work, we urge Londoners to take action to safeguard their gold and jewellery by following our simple crime prevention advice."
According to the Met, intelligence show organised criminal networks are increasingly involved in lucrative family gold theft which affects families including those from the Asian, Jewish and Maltese communities.
Combined with the annual rise in burglary and robbery at this time of year, this makes communities particularly vulnerable to thieves keen to cash in on the gold which is then often sold through second-hand outlets.
Burglars use various tactics and are known to rip up floorboards, remove bath panels and removes safes.
How to protect yourself against theft
Police have issued advice on how to protect yourself against gold and jewellery theft:
- Take a photograph of your valuables - it is the only way officers can prove it belongs to you if a burglar is stopped.
- Property mark your jewellery, by using a traceable liquid such as SmartWater®, this gives police the best chance of reuniting victims with their stolen property, if recovered.
- Consider installing CCTV cameras and burglar alarms as a deterrent.
- Avoid keeping jewellery in bedrooms and bathrooms - this is often the first place a burglar will look.
- Consider keeping your jewellery safe with the National Pawnbrokers Association rather than in a safe which can be removed.
- If you do wear valuables out whilst travelling in public, cover them up so you don't draw attention to them.
- If you do decide to store your valuables in a safe, ensure it is secured to a wall or floor.
When out, keep to well-lit areas and try not to travel alone.
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