Diwali: Met Police warn against gold thefts ahead of festival

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Media captionPeople in Forest Gate say they are nervous to wear gold in public

People celebrating Diwali this week have been warned to watch out for gangs of thieves targeting gold jewellery.

The Met police said intelligence showed organised criminals were involved in targeting "family gold" during the five-day festival of light.

It said Asian families in London were disproportionately affected as the festive period saw a spike in crime due to more gold jewellery being worn.

In September to December last year, there were 1,079 gold-related crimes.

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Image caption The most targeted area for gold thefts was Croydon

The most targeted areas, in descending order, were Croydon, Hounslow, Brent, Barnet and Sutton. Almost three-quarters of victims were Asian, and residential burglary was the most common offence at 82%, followed by robbery at 13%.

The 66 individuals arrested during the period showed prolific thieves were increasingly turning towards committing gold crime from their previous preferred method of "distraction" theft carried out against elderly people.

Last month an elderly couple from Barnet were robbed in their home of about £10,000 worth of jewellery by two men.

Image copyright EPA
Image caption Diwali is known as the festival of light

Det Ch Insp Jane Corrigan, who is leading the Met's approach to tackling gold theft, said: "Owners should always make a photographic record so that they can prove ownership for insurance purposes if case they become victims, and use a traceable liquid which gives us the best chance of reuniting them with their items if stolen."

"Gold will continue to be highly desired by criminals due to the speed and anonymity with which it can currently be exchanged for large sums of cash," she added.

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