London, Mar 24 (PTI) Police in the UK have urged Indian-origin families to keep their gold away from homes after a growing number of robberies targeting jewellery associated with such households.
Leicestershire Police released an image of a burglar this week after he was jailed for four years for a violent robbery at an Indian-origin home in Leicester last year.
The elderly couple, who have chosen to remain anonymous, have been left traumatised and decided to sell their home and move from the area. “A 63-year-old woman, who was asleep in bed with her three-year-old grandchild next to her, was awoken after she felt a blow to her face, she was then subjected to a vicious attack and threatened with a knife before she was left unconscious.
“Gold bangles on her wrists were stolen along with cash and other items of jewellery. The child wasn’t harmed during the incident but the victim was treated in hospital for cuts and bruises,” Leicestershire Police said.
African-origin Farhan Loonat, 27, pleaded guilty to aggravated burglary at Leicester Crown Court and was sentenced to four years behind bars on Thursday.
The police have been using the case to renew its appeal for families to consider removing their “high value gold or jewellery” from their homes and placing them in a safety deposit box.
They have also urged people to “double lock doors and windows, use timer switches on lamps if they are out and keep a light on in the evening”.
Detectives believe Loonat did not act alone and there was another suspect who has never been identified.
Although Loonat was not involved in the violent attack on the victim, his fingerprints were found within the property which then led officers to identify and arrest him within weeks of the offence in October last year.
“This was a distressing incident for the victim in her home, the violent nature of the offence was callous. We are pleased that Loonat has pleaded guilty to his part in the incident, albeit he wasn’t responsible for the violence, he was responsible for entering the house and stealing more than 20,000 pounds worth of items,” said Detective Constable Damian Young.
“Burglaries, especially when there is violence involved, leave the community in fear. We take these reports extremely seriously and will leave no stone unturned to find those responsible,” he said, appealing for information on Loonat’s accomplice.
Loonat and his accomplice broke in with a knife and demanded that the 63-year-old Gujarati-origin woman tell them where the jewellery was kept in the house.
She was treated in hospital for injuries but her family says she is suffering from the psychological impact of the attack even today. Leicester, with a large Indian-origin population, is associated with gold merchants and traders from the city’s famous Golden Mile on Belgrave Road.
An Indian-origin jeweller Ramniklal Jogiya was killed earlier this year in what is believed to be a robbery gone wrong.
The 74-year-old was found dead in Stoughton area of the city on January 25. Four men aged between 19-29 were charged with his manslaughter last month.
The incident caused a lot of unease within the local community, with local police deploying extra officers to patrol the Golden Mile.
This is published unedited from the PTI feed.