London

Diwali warning after £45m gold theft in London

Gold jewellery in a store in western India Image copyright SAM PANTHAKY
Image caption The Met has advised families to consider storing jewellery in safes or mark pieces with traceable liquids

Jewellery and gold worth £45m has been stolen from Asian families in London over 12 months, Scotland Yard has said.

The number of offences for the 2014-15 financial year fell by 24%, or 1,324 incidents, compared to 2013-14.

But police said there was often a spike in thefts around Diwali - the five-day Hindu festival of light - which begins this year on 11 November.

A spokesman advised people to consider storing jewellery in safes and avoid travelling alone.

'Snatched from neck'

Bobby Kanda, owner of jewellers The Gold Factory, said families often invested in the highest quality gold available and were targeted because of its value.

He said he takes measures to prevent being duped by those trying to sell stolen items.

"We've had a couple of times when someone has brought in a chain and you can see that the catch has been stretched as it's been snatched off someone's neck and we get those trying to sell jewellery at a much lower price because they want money quickly," he said.

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"We won't buy anything without identification and if it's over £500 we try our best to use a cheque or bank transfer because if there's an issue we can help the police."

The Metropolitan Police said an annual rise in burglary and robbery as the nights draw in made Asian communities particularly vulnerable at a time when they would be travelling across the city to attend events.

Det Ch Insp Jane Corrigan 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 worth and, if stolen, would have a huge impact on owners."