Police issue burglary warning after masked men put chisel to pensioner’s throat

The couple had wedding rings, cash and jewellery taken by masked men. Picture: Met Police

The couple had wedding rings, cash and jewellery taken by masked men. Picture: Met Police - Credit: Archant

Residents have been told to protect their family gold after a masked gang put a chisel to a pensioner’s throat during an aggravated burglary.

An elderly Asian couple, who want to remain anonymous, shared their terrifying ordeal to warn other to secure their valuables - especially during the festivities of Navratri and Diwali.

The pensioners were watching television when they heard banging coming from the hallway.

The 77-year-old woman went to investigate and found four men in her home.

One of the suspects pushed her back into the lounge and made her sit down and a man threatened her with a chisel by holding it against her neck and demanding she hand over her “Asian gold”.

The other gang members took her 82-year-old husband upstairs whilst they searched the house for jewellery.

“These men came in through our open kitchen window and threatened my husband and I,” she said.

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“They turned our house upside down and stole our jewellery, including my much-loved wedding ring.”

Before leaving the property, the gang, all in dark clothing, stole a quantity of jewellery and cash valued at £1,260 including necklaces, bracelets, and bank cards.

No arrests have been made and enquiries continue.

“I would urge everyone to store their jewellery away from their home and properly secure their doors and windows,” she added.

During the last financial year there were 1,891 burglaries involving Asian victims in London, during which 6,369 items of jewellery were stolen, valued at nearly £9millon.

The festival period tends to see a spike in this type of crime largely due to more jewellery being worn as communities travel across London to different venues - whether temples or to other people’s homes.

The Met has continued to step up its efforts to tackle gold thieves through Operation Nugget which seeks to drive down the numbers of offences and bring more perpetrators to justice through a series of different initiatives.

Det Con Lisa Keely 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 value, and if stolen, would have a huge impact on owners.

“Our proactive measures to tackle these crimes has seen reductions in offences, however there is more to be done.

“As part of this work, we urge Londoners to take action to safeguard their gold and jewellery by following our simple crime prevention advice.”

Intelligence shows that organised criminal networks are increasingly involved in the lucrative family gold theft which affects many families including those from Asian, Jewish and Maltese communities across various locations in the capital. Burglars use various tactics and have even been known to rip up floorboards, remove bath panels and removes safes.

Police said it is therefore essential for the public to help prevent these offences by taking the following precautions

- Take a photograph of your valuables as it is the best way officers can prove it belongs to you if a burglar is stopped.

- Property mark your jewellery, by using a traceable liquid such as SmartWater, this gives police the best chance of reuniting victims with their stolen property, if recovered.

The website securedbydesign.com provides more information on traceable liquids.

- Consider installing CCTV cameras and burglar alarms as a deterrent.

- Avoid keeping jewellery in bedrooms and bathrooms as this is often the first place a burglar will look.

- Consider keeping your jewellery safe with the National Pawnbrokers Association rather than in a safe which can be removed.

- If you do wear valuables out in public cover them up so you don’t draw attention to them and keep to well-lit areas and try not to travel alone.

- If you do decide to store your valuables in a safe, ensure it is secured to a wall or the floor.

Anyone with information about the crime mentioned above is asked to contact Det Con Lisa Keely on 101 or call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

To find out more on how to protect yourself and your property visit met.police.uk/crime-prevention