Apr 19, 2007

Cleveland Desis Beware


Police suspect thieves target Indian homes

Similar pattern to break-ins; jewelry worth $150K stolen

CHELMSFORD, Mass. — Massachusetts police suspect Indian families might have been specifically targeted in a series of thefts in the Greater Boston area. A recent theft of jewelry worth $22,000 from a home in Chelmsford was the fourth case of jewelry theft at an Indian household in the region since August last year.
After investigating commonalities between the cases, which occurred in Andover, Billerica, Lexington and Chelmsford, local police say it is possible that Indian families are being targeted. Though no concrete leads to any possible suspect have emerged, information sharing between the respective police departments revealed the mode of operation to be remarkably similar, said Sergeant Tod Ahern of the Chelmsford Police Department.
Police have also advised the community to stay alert, and report any suspicious activity, especially knowledge of places where Indian jewelry might be pawned, or places one might be able to get rid of it for profit.
It all began when Navpreet Singh of Chelmsford, Mass., took it upon himself to make that connection. “In all these cases, jewelry was stolen in exact same fashion,” Singh said. “Andover, Aug 2006 was reportedly $80,000 to $100,000, Billerica was $25,000, Lexington was $25,000 and ours in Chelmsford was $22,000.”
On March 10, the second weekend of the month, when the Singh family was away from home, their house was broken into. Though at first there were no signs of forced entry, according to Ahern, closer investigation revealed that the locks had been tampered with.
“This appears to be an organized break-in,” Ahern said, describing the perpetrators as professional. “They knew what they were looking for. They were not looking through the entire house.”
A similar observation was shared by the Billerica police, where the victims were robbed of $25,000 on Nov. 13, 2006, also the second weekend of the month.
There were no signs of forced entry at first, but evidence of metal shavings later revealed that someone filed out the internal mechanisms of the lock, said Sgt. Frost Roy, detective sergeant at the Billerica Police Department. The residents were gone for the weekend and the jewelry was located in a closet. “Nothing else was disturbed in the apartment other than the closet being open and jewelry being stolen, very unique type of jewelry of Indian nature.”
When high-end gold jewelry was stolen from Singh’s Chelmsford condominium, he remembered receiving a forwarded e-mail a few months earlier about large-scale jewelry theft in neighboring towns. “Little did I think at that time I would be the next,” Singh said. “Initially I too was skeptical, my wife said I was overanalyzing and that everybody keeps jewelry in their master bedrooms.”
When he reached out to the other families, who he previously had no connection with, Singh said he became convinced that there was a link, and shared his suspicions with the police.
According to Singh, all four cases occurred on the second Saturday; and the robbers opened every single jewelry pouch, but stole only the gold jewelry. “Silver and artificial jewelry was left behind, as if the intruder knew the difference well and had all the time to review the items before pocketing them,” Singh said. “In all the cases, the intruders opened every single pouch and removed silver and non-expensive jewelry, instead of taking the pouch with them.” Singh added that all the homes were corner units in condominium communities.
“It does appear to be some Indian families have been targeted,” said Roy of the Billerica Police Department. “There were no other break-ins in any other condos in that time frame.”
But he added that everything is “open right now,” and the police have no further leads.
The jewelry pictures have been shared with police departments and pawn shops, Roy said, in an attempt to see if the robbers attempt to sell of any it locally, but nothing has surfaced yet.
“We’re not seeing any Indian jewelry being pawned, it appears to have been taken to other areas or shipped overseas,” Roy said.
He added that information has also been shared with the North Eastern Massachusetts Municipal Law Enforcement Council, a consortium of 52 police departments in the region. “Everyone has been provided with this information and asked to keep an eye out for any burglary they go to that involves an Indian family and jewelry to keep a look out for common threads,” Roy said.
Chelmsford police also recovered some fingerprints from the scene of the crime, which have been sent for processing, said Ahern.
“I would recommend – if you keep a lot of valuables at your house don’t do that,” Ahern said as advice to Indian families here. “You have to take some measures you wouldn’t normally take, if you are a member of the Indian community.”

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Helpful information. Thanks.