Indian and South Asian families in several towns of Massachusetts are being increasingly targeted by thieves for their expensive jewellery, a media report said.
According to CBS News, the robbery cases are now being investigated by law enforcement, including the FBI, who are looking into incidents in Billerica, Natick, Weston, Wellesley, Easton and North Attleboro towns of Massachusetts.
Calling these “opportunity crimes”, Middlesex District Attorney Marian Ryan said the “sophisticated” thieves target homes whose owners have gone for a period of time. Ryan said that the homeowners are watched, or their whereabouts are noted on social media. No artwork or electronics are taken and there are few traces of the crime, he said.
While law enforcement is still trying to identify those behind the robberies, thieves targeted Indian-American Samir Desai’s home in Lincoln earlier this month. They entered through a second-floor window that had no alarms while the family traveled for ten days in early July, the report said. “They left the upstairs completely trashed and stole jewelry, many purses, watches, and other items,” Desai had said in a Facebook post.
“We are very visible with jewelry. That’s how we celebrate our heritage, how we live, that is not a material thing for us, it’s something that is passed from generation to generation,” Desai told CBS News.
According to Desai and other community members, the gang members seem to know when homeowners are away, when to enter their homes, and what to take and disappear. “When a community whether it is Indian or otherwise gets targeted by a gang or anything else, the state has a responsibility and I believe they should step up,” Desai.
Last June, the FBI warned the Asian American community in New Jersey saying that they are at an increased risk of being burglarized. In October 2022, police in Nassau County, NY, arrested four members of an alleged Colombian burglary ring accused of targeting Indian Americans for their jewelry and valuables.
In the same month, Lathan Johnson from California was charged with targeting, attacking, and robbing 14 Indian-American women. He ripped necklaces from the necks of the victims and sped away in a car
The estimated worth of all the stolen necklaces was found to be around $35,000, according to the Santa Clara County District Attorney’s Office.
In May 2021, five New Jersey men and three from Pennsylvania were arrested and charged with a massive burglary ring that targeted families of Asian descent.