Asian traditions have always placed a strong emphasis on jewellery and investing in gold is a time-honoured practice. Gold jewellery is often purchased to celebrate special occasions such as weddings, anniversaries, birthdays and cultural events like Diwali and Eid.
Between the 1 January and 31 May 2011, £2.9 million worth of gold was stolen through distraction burglaries. On average, nationally, £8,577 worth of gold was stolen per offence in comparison with £2,451 cash stolen.
ACPO's burglary awareness campaign, running to December, will feature three themed weeks. The focus this week is Asian gold burglaries, and we will be providing advice to the public on keeping their gold safe while police forces undertake positive action to target thieves.
ACPO lead on gold theft Assistant Chief Constable Paul Broadbent said:
"The police service is concerned that the rising price of gold may push up the number of burglaries targeting jewellery. Asian families are more likely to give or receive gold jewellery as gifts over Diwali, which are then kept in the house increasing their vulnerability to burglary.
"My priority as ACPO lead on gold theft is to work with police forces across the country to make it harder for thieves to sell gold jewellery. Reducing the market for stolen gold reduces the incentives for criminals and subsequently the number of families whose prized possessions are taken from them."
The Gold Project, an operation investigating the journey of stolen gold, has been initiated in Nottinghamshire, West Midlands, and Leicestershire and Surrey police forces. The project will build a picture of where gold goes after it is stolen, enabling forces to target resources most effectively. Central to this work is engaging with jewellery retailers, cash for gold companies and the community to gather intelligence, build awareness of stolen gold and penalties for handling stolen goods.
In Birmingham's Jewellery Quarter, West Midlands police work closely with retailers on a Shopwatch scheme. When an item of jewellery is stolen, police officers ask for a photograph of the item that they then show to local jewellers. This can help officers gather intelligence leading to an arrest or can act as a preventative measure warning retailers not to take that item as it is stolen.
Surrey police have worked with the three principal jewellery trade associations to draw up 'The Gold Standard', a voluntary code that introduces a number of verification, evaluation and best practice measures that will reduce the numbers of retailers accidently buying stolen jewellery. Signing up to the scheme will provide retailers and customers with a sense of security that they are not supporting criminal activity and will act as a deterrent to offenders.
Assistant Chief Constable Broadbent also issued a warning to people owning valuable gold jewellery to take simple steps to protect it.
· Keep the jewellery in a safe place and locked up if possible. Consider installing a safe at home which is securely fixed to the floor or wall. See www.securedbydesign.com for police approved safes.
· Ensure that the jewellery is insured.
· Consider storing high valuable items elsewhere such as in a bank deposit box; contact your bank for details.
· Make a list of all jewellery stored in your house with a description of each item.
· Photograph all pieces of jewellery against a plan background with the ruler next to them to give an idea of size.
· Consider registering your jewellery with a registration company.
· Make sure your home is kept secure at all times: keep windows and doors locked, switch lights on when going out to make your home look occupied, use burglary alarms and install security lights on the outside of your property.
· If you are buying jewellery as gift, don't leave it or its packaging on display. Follow as much of the above advice as possible to keep it safe.