More than £140,000,000 of Asian gold has been stolen in the United Kingdom since 2014

Arieb Malik, The Norwood School

A BBC investigation has discovered that £140m has been stolen in the past five years in the UK. Jewellery is often purchased as a gift for those who are about to get married, then is gifted to them at their weddings. Often bought in British Asian families, it is also passed down from generation to generation. Out of all areas, Greater London had the highest value of Gold jewellery stolen (£115,600,000) followed by Greater Manchester (£9,600,000).

Almost 28,000 thefts of Asian Gold have occurred in the United Kingdom in the past five years however this figure is only those thefts that have been recorded. 45 Police forces in the United Kingdom had revealed that £141,300,000 worth of Asian Gold had been recorded as stolen in England; this information was received from a BBC Freedom of Information request. Forces in Scotland, Wales & Northern Ireland hadn’t provided any data. This is the first time that a extensive figure has revealed the extent of the thefts of Asian Gold in the United Kingdom that has been gathered so far. The 5 police forces found to have the highest value of robberies in 2017 – 2018 were the Metropolitan Police with £21,200,000 and 3,300 thefts, Kent Police with £1,600,000 and 89 thefts, Greater Manchester Police with £1,500,000 and 238 thefts, Essex Police with £495,000 and 52 thefts and finally Thames Valley Police with £310,000 and 102 thefts.

A retired couple by the names of Shaheed & Syeda Syed were victims of a violent robbery in their home in the north of England in December last year, they were attacked by masked intruders who were armed with an iron bar, both were beaten and Mr. Syed consequently suffered a heart attack. The thieves took their bangles, necklaces and rings that had been part of the family for generations. Mrs. Syed had been keeping these for hear granddaughters. Mrs. Syed has said “Most of the jewellery was from my parents, some was from my husband, so it had sentimental value,” meanwhile Mr. Syed said: “At night when I lock all the doors and windows and go to bed, still I don’t feel safe.” The couple were left very shaken by the attack and Mr. Syed said he couldn’t understand why they were targeted as they aren’t rich and don’t live in an expensive area. Mrs. Syed added “Even if I had money, I would be scared to buy gold again and scared to keep it at home.”

Police officers said that in some of the robberies, victims owned large amounts of jewellery but not always. In Cheshire, the police set up a committed team to work with members of the community after the Asian gold-related incidents. Managing to track down a group of criminals, the operation led to a number of convictions in the North West, into North Wales and the Midlands. Aaron Duggan (head of crime at Cheshire Police) said one of the challenges faced is that gold can be disposed of very easily, he also added “At second-hand outlets, certainly around Asian jewellery, questions should be asked – ‘who is this person in front of me selling this gold?’ “The irony is it’s often harder in this country to sell scrap metal than it is second-hand jewellery.”

Sanjay Kumar (a jeweller) says people need to think very carefully about where they would keep their gold and means of storage. Sanjay Kumar specializes in selling Asian gold in Southall, West London as the jewellery has cultural significance. “People are told by their parents and grandparents ‘you must buy gold – it’s an investment, it’s lucky”, he said. “It’s something that we as Asians do, so people are following the tradition and the culture.” He added that he advises the customers buying gold to think carefully about how they store it and to make sure that it is insured.

Arieb Malik, The Norwood School