Vancouver police warn of jewelry thieves targeting elderly (w/ video)

In this Thursday, Feb. 14, 2013 photo, an Indian woman looks into a mirror as she tries out gold jewelry at a shop in Mumbai, India. Rajanish Kakade/AP Photo

LARISSA CAHUTE
VANCOUVER DESI

Vancouver police are warning the public about jewelry thieves targeting seniors -— particularly “elderly South Asian women.”

According to VPD spokesman Sgt. Randy Fincham, there were five incidents on the Aug. 9 to 11 weekend alone.

“We had a string of them … in one spot,” he said

Three of those thefts were from South Asian women in the Sunset-Cedar Cottage area around Main and Fraser streets.

According to Fincham, the thieves are targeting yellow gold and the women had bracelets, rings or earrings worth anywhere form $500 to $1,000 stolen.

“We believe they’re being targeted because traditionally, South Asian women will wear yellow gold, or gold with a really high gold content,” said Fincham.

Police believe the crime is being committed by a group of suspects, men and women described as having medium to dark skin.

The suspects will approach the victim, enter their personal space and slip off any gold bracelets or rings.

“They’re actually coming up and talking to them in their native language,” said Fincham. “We had one of the suspects come up and talk to a lady in Punjabi and sort of gain some trust and, you know, build that relationship between them to which that lady felt comfortable to allow this person into her personal space.”

The gold items aren’t necessarily going to pawn shops, though, said Fincham — he believes the jewelry is going towards a growing market which buys melted down gold.

“There’s a number of companies in Vancouver, in the Lower Mainland, in Canada and the U.S. that will buy your gold from you at close to market value and to my understanding no checks on where that gold came from,” said Fincham. “Unless it was engraved it would be fairly hard to trace back to the rightful owners.”

“These people know what they’re going for —- they’re targeting jewelry for a reason.”

Police are advising the public to conceal their valuables, not let anyone into their personal space and if approached by these people claiming to sell jewelry, refuse and call police to report the crime.

Vancouver police have provided video re-enactment of the thefts:

IFRAME Embed for Youtube

lcahute@theprovince.com
twitter.com/larissacahute

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