FAMILIES with valuable jewellery have been urged to improve security after a rise in robberies across the Bradford area.
In the last six months there have been 20 robberies, the majority involving Asian families and individuals robbed of valuable items.
A specialist police team has been set up in Bradford to hunt down the criminal gangs thought to be behind the thefts.
The new police team will focus on catching offenders, identifying ‘receivers’ and highlighting crime prevention measures.
Six local men have already been arrested over the past few weeks in connection with such offences.
Detective Chief Inspector Steve Thomas, who is leading the new team, said: “We have experienced a recent trend of offences across the Bradford district where jewellery has been targeted.
“Increases in the value of gold is suspected to be behind this type of criminality and although overall offending for burglary and robbery has fallen across the Bradford district by 23 per cent in the last two financial years, this is an area we need to focus our attention.
“Understandably, these crimes are causing some consternation within our communities as many families possess jewellery, often as heirlooms.
“To combat the issue, we have created a team of specialist officers who will concentrate solely on investigating offences and acting on any information they receive.
“This will allow us to develop a ‘live time’ overview throughout the entire district and subsequently target our resources in the right areas at the right times. Information coming in from the public will also be quickly acted upon and fed into the wider picture.”
Officers will be focusing on jewellers - legitimate as well as unscrupulous ones - to ensure criminals cannot sell on the items.
The city council is backing the crackdown.
Coun Imran Hussain, deputy leader of Bradford Council, said: “These horrific offences, sometimes targeting some of the most vulnerable victims, simply will not be tolerated.
“Families with high value jewellery should carefully consider security measures including safety deposit boxes.”