Asian families across east and south London celebrating Diwali have been warned that thieves will be targeting their gold and jewellery during the annual festivities, which are due to begin tomorrow
The Metropolitan Police said £45 million worth of gold was stolen from Asian families in London last year and that the Hindu festival of Diwali is targeted because people are more likely to be wearing expensive jewellery. The problem is worsened by the annual rise in burglary rates at this time of year, which coincides with earlier sunsets and longer nights.
Detective Chief Inspector Jane Corrigan said: “Gold will continue to be desired by criminals due to the speed and anonymity with which it can be exchanged for large sums of cash.”
Police have suggested that gold should be locked in a safe and jewellery should be covered up. They also urge people to avoid travelling alone and stick to well-lit areas.
Heena Patel, from the Family Gold Network, told EastLondonLines that Asians are often targeted because they tend to buy the “purest” gold available.
She said: “With communities wanting to maintain certain traditions a lot of gold jewelry is still bought and not always stored securely at home. For criminals therefore, a relatively low risk burglary could reap great rewards.”
DCI Corrigan added: “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.”
She has assured that police have “proactive measures” in place, but advised the public to take action to “safeguard” their possessions.
Called the ‘Festival of Lights’ Diwali is celebrated by Hindus, Sikhs and Jains at the start of the Hindu new year and is always marked by feasts, fireworks and candles.