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Families in Blackburn hit in spate of Asian jewel raids
THIEVES have stolen valuable jewellery from 20 Asian families in a spate of raids.
Police said there had been a ‘worrying’ increase in the number of thefts, with one happening on average every week.
Some raids have taken place while families were out visiting their friends after fasting during Ramadan.
In the latest incident, a father-of-six was left so afraid after thieves raided his Blackburn home of £10,000 and sentimental rings, bracelets, chains and necklaces belonging to his wife and daughter that he could not even go to mosque to pray.
The items were taken from his house in Cedar Street while he was out at work.
Mohammed Butt, 46, said he was now also finding it difficult to sleep.
The sweet shop worker, whose family was on holiday in Pakistan when the raid happened, said: “I just do not know what to do. When my family comes back, they are going to be in for a big shock.
“I have been looking after the sweet shop while my boss is on holiday and I took some of the cash home because I did not know where to put it. The jewellery was really sentimental too.
“If my family was at home, it would be a bit of comfort, but I am on my own. I could not sleep when it happened and I have not been going to pray at mosque because there is nobody at home. I just stay at home and pray. It has really frightened me.”
Detectives said they had received 20 reports of Asian jewellery thefts in Blackburn since April.
Mr Butts said he had arrived home from work at around 9.30pm on August 1 to find his house ransacked.
Coun Salim Mulla, mayor of Blackburn with Darwen and chairman of the Lancashire Council of Mosques, said members of the Asian community often preferred to keep their valuables at home thinking it was safer than a bank or safe.
He said: “There have been many incidents and the community is really concerned about it. The advice from the mosque community is to remain vigilant. When your daughter gets married, we give so much gold and some women keep it at home to have instant access to it. It is all really sentimental stuff that is stolen in these burglaries.
“The Muslim community needs to remain vigilant and I also think the police have a serious job to do in clamping down on it.”
Police, who are not linking the thefts, are now advising the Asian community to lock up their valuables and are asking residents to keep a look out and report any suspicious behaviour.
They are also advising all householders to keep windows and doors locked, fit a door chain, keep side gates shut and consider getting outdoor security lighting.
Detective Sergeant Jennifer Lennon said that officers had been carrying out increased patrols in hotspot areas.
She said: “Asian householders are being targeted and we believe that it is because during Ramadan, houses are left unoccupied while they go round to friends’ to break the fast.
“The jewellery is often made of high value gold too."
Anybody with information should call police on 101 or Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800 555111.
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