Blackburn homes hit in Asian gold raids
Updated 1:01pm Thursday 8th May 2014 in News
THOUSANDS of pounds of Asian-heritage gold jewellery have been stolen in nine raids on homes.
The thieves have targeted houses in Blackburn at weekends and used metal detectors to locate the jewels.
Now, after a meeting between victims and councillors, a call for action has been issued.
And councillors said they wanted the whole community to pull together to stop the thefts.
Asian heritage jewellery are pieces of high-value gold that are often given as presents and passed from generation to generation.
Founding member Yusuf Patel said tens of thousands of pounds worth of sentimental, high-quality gold had been snatched in the last month.
His home in Windsor Close was amongst those targeted, with £6,000 worth of precious 24ct gold bangles, earrings and bracelets being taken.
Mr Patel, who runs his own web development business, said he believed thieves were deliberately picking out Asian homes where high-value items could be kept.
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He said homes in Cromwell Street, Waters Edge, Cumberland Street, Windsor Road, Pringle Street, Lincoln Road, Queen’s Park Road and two in Edith Street had also been raided.
The thieves have been striking on Friday and Saturday evenings, often between 8.30pm and 9.30pm, when occupants have been out, often visiting family.
He said police had also told him about thieves using metal detectors to pinpoint exactly where gold was hidden in houses.
The 33-year-old father-of-two said it was now time for residents to launch their own campaign against the thieves.
He said: “We have decided we are going to take action ourselves by forming this pressure group. It is for the sake of security in the area, nobody feels safe.”
A meeting was set up at Prospect Mill in the Queen’s park area of Blackburn on Wednesday night which saw dozens of residents, including other victims turn up.
Mr Patel said the group wanted more CCTV, extra police patrols and to find out what can be done to avoid being targeted again.
Distribution worker Ibrahim Haswat went along to the session after £10,000 worth of gold and around £5,000 in cash was stolen from his home in Lincoln Road.
He said: “The burglars came through the back door between 8.30pm and 9.30pm on Saturday 26 April.
“They used a pitchfork to smash one of the glass doors.
“The thieves went straight upstairs and pulled out the safe from the cupboard. They did not touch anything else.
“It is like somebody knew where the items were.”
He said the bangles, earrings and necklaces that were taken belonged to his wife and daughter Sara and had been wedding presents.
Mr Haswat said he attended the meeting to make sure the thefts did not happen to more people.
The father-of-three said: “It is time to take action and speak to councillors and the police.”
Audley councillor Salim Sidat, who listened to the victim’s issues, said a meeting was being set up so residents could talk to police and council officers.
He said: “It is nice everybody is pulling together as a community.
“We have not got a lot of money to throw around, but we will see if we can have more community involvement.
“We want to ask officers questions and hopefully they will be able to take it further.”
The action comes after a number of similar high-profile robberies and burglaries across East Lancashire.
Restaurant owner Ibby Ali’s two young daughters were held at knifepoint when three masked raiders burst into their Rossendale Road, Burnley, home and forced the girls to lead them to the valuables in February.
And in Blackburn, a pregnant woman and her young son were threatened with a knife and screwdriver in March when men in balaclavas burst into their Edith street home and demanded cash and gold.
A police spokesman said it was possible the burglaries were linked because of the similar times of day they were happening.
Sgt Jon Cisco, from the north east neighbourhood policing team, in Blackburn, said: “I am aware that in the last six to 12 months there has been some Asian jewellery stolen and inquiries remain ongoing.”
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