The Kingswood Residents Association would like to pass on the following information, recently received from Surrey Police.
We are warning anyone with significant amounts of jewellery at home to consider their security, as officers release a heat map of areas believed to be the target of organised criminals searching for high value gold.
We believe around 30 burglaries and attempted burglaries since July 2020 may be connected to one or more organised criminal groups operating across the UK.
Working in teams of three or four, the burglars ransack family homes looking for high purity, high value gold. Some of the pieces taken were wedding jewellery, or heirlooms handed down through generations, with great sentimental value.
Many of the victims held gold and jewellery in place of life savings, and some had not been able to insure them.
Detective Superintendent Wendy Whiting said:
“These despicable individuals will literally ransack properties – pulling off bath panels, ripping up floorboards and turning over lofts if they believe that there is gold hidden in the house. Unlike many burglars, they are not shy of being seen – if disturbed they may threaten the occupants rather than immediately fleeing.
“Today Surrey Police is releasing a heat map of these burglaries since July 1st, to show how widespread the problem is. Although there has been a focus on Spelthorne in the north of Surrey, people across the county need to be aware of the risk and take steps now to protect their property.
“Many of the victims have South Asian (Indian, Pakistani and Bangladeshi) heritage, as these communities sometimes hold gold for cultural reasons; but we are also seeing victims from other communities. The common link is that they are being targeted because of the amount of jewellery they have in their home.”
We are asking anyone who has large amounts of gold or jewellery to
- Store your valuables securely in a safety deposit box or bank vault.
- If you have to keep gold at home, install a safe that meets British Standard EN 1143-1 and the police recognised “Secured By Design” standards. The safe needs to be securely attached to the building (ideally bolted to, or embedded in, a solid concrete floor).
- Add other security measures such as CCTV, alarms and security marking your jewellery with a forensic marking product.
- Don’t advertise your jewellery or when you are away online – don’t post photos of your jewellery on social media, and be careful mentioning holidays or extended absences from home.
- When wearing jewellery for a special event, keep it covered until you are indoors and with people you trust.
- During Navratri (which ended on Sunday) and Diwali, avoid decorating the outside of your house or car with religious or celebration symbols (flags, lights or other emblems) as these can advertise to thieves that you may have gold present.
- If you have taken jewellery out of a safety deposit box to wear during Navratri celebrations, don’t be tempted to store it at home until Diwali – return it to the deposit box for safekeeping.
- It is possible that thieves may be following expensive cars from workplaces, restaurants or places of worship. They may even be tracking them with GPS devices. Try to park your vehicle in a secure area, or vary where you park.
D/Supt Wendy Whiting also appealed to the wider public.
“I am also asking the public to keep an eye out for anyone acting suspiciously – these properties were targeted as the burglars knew what they were looking for. They must be either following the occupants; possibly home from temple or celebration events; or they are carrying out reconnaissance on the homes before they strike. We believe that the burglary teams are travelling to their targets in a single car, and often park directly opposite or right outside, so please be vigilant – especially if the car has more than one occupant.
“We are working hard to try and disrupt these organised criminal gangs, but we need the public to be our eyes and ears and help us to catch them in the act.
“If you suspect a vehicle or individuals either in your area, or following someone, we need to know about it promptly – trust your instincts and get in touch with us urgently. You can message us 24/7 through the website www.surrey.police.uk; or via Facebook or Twitter; or you can call us on 101. Always call 999 if a crime is in progress.
“If you are at risk of this type of crime, and would like advice on crime prevention, please send a private message to your local borough policing team through Facebook, and they will your details to your local Designing Out Crime Officer to make contact.”