Washington, Oct 18: Indian and South Asian homes have been targetted in a months-long series of daytime break-ins in Northern Virginia by burglars looking for gold that mirror a disturbing trend seen in other parts of the US as well.
"The burglars are discerning. They have taken 22-karat pieces but left behind sterling silver and well-crafted costume jewellery," the Washington Post reported Saturday.
"They have sifted through floor-length gowns lovingly stored in closets and plucked every custom-made sari threaded with gold and worth thousands, disdaining saris worth only hundreds," it said.
Officers in Fairfax and Loudoun counties on the outskirts of the national capital of Washington, and the homeowners themselves, have yet to figure out how the burglars so successfully identify houses with large gold caches.
Before they became victims, many of the families were strangers, and they and police have eliminated many of the obvious links: churches, temples, schools or even grocery stores where they could have been tracked, the Post said.
The unsolved crimes mirror a pattern of 93 burglaries in Houston, 37 in central Illinois and a handful outside St. Paul, Minnesota.
"Most of us didn't even know each other," Raman Kumar, whose home in Centreville, another Washington suburb, was among the earliest break-in sites was quoted as saying. "But here is the thing: If you know our customs, you know we carry a lot of gold."
Indian and South Asian communities traditionally pass collections of 22-karat gold from generation to generation. Gold has been selling at more than $1,000 an ounce, and some of the break-ins have netted more than $100,000 worth of jewellery, victims reported.
A break-in Thursday was the most recent of three cases in South Riding in Loudoun.
The spate also includes six Fair Oaks homes hit in two days last week in Fairfax and 16 burglaries between January and August in Reston, Centreville and Fair Oaks, all Washington suburbs.
The Loudoun Sheriff's Office identified its cluster Friday, realising that a June burglary had the same traits as others Oct 6 and Thursday.
Police spokesmen in Prince George's and Montgomery counties said they have not seen the same targeting of Indians and South Asians. But it has surfaced elsewhere in the country.