With rising prices of gold, Indian-owned jewellery shops in United Kingdom's east Midlands town of Leicester have become major targets of burglaries that saw at least two shops -- Alankar and Bipin -- being ransacked in the last fortnight.
Leicester has a large population of Indian-origin people that supports the culture and business on the Belgrave Road, where the two burgled shops and several others are located.
The road is also called the Golden Mile due to the large number of jewellery shops in the area.
Indian-origin owners of the shops are reported to be living in fear due to the recent burglaries.
The local police have now launched an 'Operation Itchen' to reduce such acts of crime and assure the business community.
Detective Chief Inspector Chris Baker who is leading the operation, said, "Burglaries continue to be a priority for us and we will do all we can to bring to justice those responsible and prevent further residents experiencing the heartache of having their home burgled."
The police arrested a 22-year-old man in Nottingham in connection with the burglary at the Alankar Jewellers.
Last week, a gang rammed a van into the front of Alankar Jewellers, rushed inside and used crowbars to smash glass display cabinets.
A few days later, a group of men used cutting equipment to get inside Bipin Jewellers.
On both occasions, it is believed the gangs escaped with stock worth thousands of pounds.
Mahul Visram, director of Ram Jewellers and a member of the Belgrave Business Association, said, "People here are frightened and they are basically wondering who's next? So far, we are talking about things such as hammers and crowbars and fortunately nobody has been hurt during any of the incidents in Leicester."
"But people are worried that some of these gangs may have firearms and that one day someone will be hurt. A lot of the businesses down here already have extensive security arrangements, but incidents are still taking place because the price of gold is so high," he said.
"Offers of cash for gold are everywhere but I don't think the jewellery stolen in Leicester is staying here, I think it's going out of the city to be sold elsewhere," he noted.
Jaspal Singh Minhas, president of Leicester Asian Business Association appealed to the community of jewellers to coordinate with police for a secure environment.
"My appeal to the jewellers is to get together with the police and create a safer environment for their employees and customers, otherwise we may experience a fatality as criminals using arms may end up using them," Minhas said.
Jitendra Vaitha, who manages the family-owned Bipin jewellery shop, said within prices of gold have doubled in recent times.
"Everyone speculates it's because of the price of gold and you can understand why last two years prices have doubled," he said.
Relating the incident, he said, "They came in via the side street, reversing the car up. Then three of them got out and opened the boot. I saw a very large sledgehammer and cutter on the CCTV."
Dharmendra Dhanak, manager of Dhanak goldsmiths across the road, said it was the sixth or seventh raid on a Belgrave Road jewellers shop in a year.
He was kidnapped at home in 1993 and forced to open his shop, losing 300,000 pounds of property.
He said, "The people doing this have got no fear. We're always on the look-out, and won't open the door to anyone who looks suspicious, regardless of whether they have a pocketful of money to spend."
Meanwhile, in another case, an Asian conman tricked his way into an elderly woman's home in Leicester and stole jewellery, including her engagement ring and her late husband's wedding ring.