Thieves target jewels

SIMON SMITH
Last updated 05:00 16/05/2012
Gurpreet
SIMON SMITH
Prevention focused: Counties Manukau South Asian liaison officer Gurpreet Arora wants people to take precautions to prevent jewellery theft.

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Expensive jewellery has been stolen from three Sikh families within weeks of each other.

Each case is similar.

Burglars sneaked into victims' homes while the families dined in their living rooms on a Thursday or Friday evening.

A total of about $275,000 of mostly jewellery and electronics is gone.

The three families do not know each other but all have young children and live on main roads in the Botany Downs-Dannemora area.

The burglaries occurred over four weeks in March and April.

Thieves entered through open windows – twice from atop sloping garage roofs visible from the road.

All victims are insured but say it will not cover their losses.

Venkat Raman sits on the South Asian Advisory Board for Counties Manukau police and says individuals need to take precautions to improve their safety and security.

"In any society we can only look at reducing crime, we can't eliminate it," he says.

"We are trying to see how best we can educate the Indian community to be safer in terms of not keeping jewellery at home or keeping it somewhere where it is not visible."

Mr Raman says people should be careful about wearing jewellery in public and should build relationships with neighbours.

One of the victims, who wishes to be known only by her surname, lost $145,000 of collector watches, jewellery and electronics.

Miss Sidhu is now scared to leave her blinds open even during the day.

She worries what might have happened if a child had walked upstairs at the wrong time, saying children spent much of the evening playing in the master bedroom where the theft occurred.

"The time the kids had icecream would have been 15 minutes – that's the time it took to take away a whole lot of my life."

Another woman, who wishes to remain anonymous, says she tried to open the bedroom door with her daughter but was prevented by somebody on the other side who held it shut.

The burglar had jammed bedding under the door and escaped out of the window by the time they fetched the husband to help.

She says for a couple of weeks afterwards her mind would imagine worst case scenarios and she would vomit when trying to eat.

She had to see a doctor for calming medication.

Counties Manukau South Asian liaison officer Constable Gurpreet Arora says police want to prevent burglaries, especially among the South Asian communities where jewellery and cash is being targeted.

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"We also want to educate these communities to safeguard their own property, including jewellery and cash, and also to advise them to adopt crime prevention practices."

Mr Arora says it is possibly a coincidence the three victims in this story are all Sikhs and he knows of no evidence any particular ethnic group is being targeted.

People who suspect there is a burglar in their house should dial 111.

"Instead of confronting the offender in their house, they need to move out of the house on to the road where they are safe and call the police immediately."

People should note descriptions and car registration numbers.

Some advice from the NZ Police

  • Ensure windows and doors are locked when you are out, and activate alarm.
  • Be aware that sometimes theft happens when you are in one part of the house and leave windows open or doors unlocked elsewhere.
  • Do not keep valuables in the master bedroom, conceal them.
  • A good-quality safe fastened so it can not be moved can prevent theft.
  • Seldom worn, high value items can be kept in a safety deposit box at a bank
  • Check your jewellery is insured to current market valuePhotograph your jewellery and maintain an inventory. It is free of charge at snap.org.nz.

- © Fairfax NZ News

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