"people are following the tradition and the culture."
Indian-origin homes in the UK are being targeted for gold robberies. Over the past five years, over £140 million worth of gold jewellery has been stolen.
A BBC investigation found that there have been nearly 28,000 thefts since 2013. “Asian gold” is bought as wedding gifts and known to be stored in the home and passed down generations.
Twenty-three out of 45 police forces across Britain provided figures on these thefts.
It was found that Greater London had the highest value stolen at £115.6 million. This was followed by £9.6 million in Greater Manchester.
Sanjay Kumar specialises in selling Asian gold in Southall, west London. He recognised the cultural significance behind gold jewellery and has always advised his customers to think about how they store their gold and to get it insured.
He said: “People are told by their parents and grandparents ‘you must buy gold – it’s an investment, it’s lucky. It’s something that we as Asians do, so people are following the tradition and the culture.”
In some of the burglaries, some victims owned large amounts of jewellery but that was not always the case.
In Cheshire, police have set up a dedicated team to work with members of the community after a series of Asian gold-related burglaries.
Aaron Duggan, head of crime at Cheshire Police, said that one challenge officers face is that gold can be easily disposed of.
He said: “At second-hand outlets, certainly around Asian jewellery, questions should be asked – ‘who is this person in front of me selling this gold?’
“The irony is it’s often harder in this country to sell scrap metal than it is second-hand jewellery.”
Scotland Yard regularly issues advice during major Indian festivals for the British-Asian community to be vigilant.
A Met Police statement said: “The festival period tends to see a spike in this type of crime largely due to more jewellery being worn as communities travel across London to different venues, whether temples or to other people’s homes.”
Between 2017 and 2018, there were 3,300 high-value thefts were recorded by the Met Police, worth approximately £21.2 million.
Kent Police recorded 89 cases worth £1.6 million and Greater Manchester Police had 238 incidents worth £1.5 million.
Detective Constable Lisa Keeley from the Met Police said: “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.
“These pieces of gold and jewellery are not just valuable possessions, they are also of great sentimental value, and if stolen, would have a huge impact on owners.
“Our proactive measures to tackle these crimes has seen reductions in offences, however, there is more to be done
The Met Police has set up Operation Nugget which is dedicated to tackling gold thieves. It seeks to reduce the number of offences through a series of initiatives.