Criminal gangs raiding Asian homes for gold and other valuables have been escalating their activities in March.
Since last November in Northamptonshire there have been 47 of what is called nationally Asian Gold Burglaries but 13 took place in the first two weeks of this month.
There is also mounting evidence that the offenders are prepared to use violence to get householders to reveal safes or hand over cash and cards.
Northamptonshire Police has a team working on the problem and is appealing for the public to share any information that may be helpful, particularly regarding how the gangs know which homes to target.
Detective Superintendent Dennis Murray is leading the investigation.
He said: “Those burglaries are clearly targeted at individuals and it is clear that the people involved are doing some form of research because they know exactly which premises they are going to, and that those premises actually have Asian families living in them.
“In the last six if not the last thirteen there is escalating violence or threats of violence in the course of those burglaries. They have threatened or used violence against the victims especially if the victim is trying to resist. They have threatened and on one occasion used violence against children to get compliance with what they want to do.
“Northamptonshire Police are really throwing the weight of the organisation behind this, we are linking with regional colleagues and national colleagues to make sure we bring these offences to a halt.”
Unsurprisingly the Asian community is very concerned. The subject was discussed at a recent Interfaith Forum and the Chief Constable Simon Edens met with community leaders this week.
The public is responding but Det Supt Murray has had to put a warning out about social media use after a teenager was wrongly accused.
He said: “We have had an incident in the past couple of days where a photo of a teenage boy was being circulated on social media alongside claims that he has been involved in the latest series of Asian Gold Burglaries across Northamptonshire.
“Upon investigation, these claims turned out to be completely false and could have put this boy in danger.
“I would strongly advise people to report any information, whether that be potential suspects or otherwise, to us directly, and to not circulate them on social media. We will act on any information received and conduct urgent checks to either confirm or rule out the involvement of any names put forward.
“Additionally, in the event that a photo of a potential suspect is circulated on social media and that person is later suspected to be involved in a crime, the fact that a photo of them alongside these claims has already been in the public domain, can undermine an investigation and future court case.
“I also want to take this opportunity to reassure the community that I have a specialist team of detectives working on this case around the clock in order to progress the investigation and Northamptonshire Police remains absolutely committed to bringing the offenders of these crimes to justice.”
Anyone with information about a crime should call 101 or in an emergency, 999. Alternatively, they can call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555111.