IT is a crime on the rise that leaves devastated families without thousands of pounds-worth of precious jewellery.

In recent months, homes across Hampshire have been raided by thieves searching for sentimental Asian gold jewellery.

Investigations have been launched by Hampshire Constabulary in an attempt to crack down on the burglars.

But the reason could be the suspects have been tipped off when jewellery owners and their families are away from home at events, such as weddings.

In March this year, burglars targeted four homes in Hampshire and a large quantity of Asian jewellery worth thousands of pounds was taken during the spree.

Last year the Bolina family were devastated when thieves smashed their way into their home in River View Road, Bitterne Park, and fled with more than £100,000 in 22 and 24 carat gold jewellery.

They ransacked the home and ripped out two safes containing more than £90,000 cash, family photos and even an urn containing the ashes of a family member.

Prominent figures within Southampton’s Asian community say warnings are issued that high value jewellery is at risk if their homes are not properly secured.

Andy Patel, chairman of the Vedic Society Hindu Temple Trustees, said many are not taking advantages of banking facilities that will keep their precious items safe.

He said: “Traditionally Asians believe in having traditional jewellery at home.

“Criminals know this is a tradition and have an idea there’s a chance to get away with high value jewellery when raiding these houses.

“At time we feel that certain information they have is like an inside job.

“If a wedding is happening, they know the houses will be empty.

“It is a national issue within big communities, and I know it’s a problem in Leicester.

“One or two families I know have been affected emotionally and financially by it. Much of the jewellery is sentimental and of high value.”

Mr Patel was on the receiving end of a burglary attempt but had precautions in place to ensure the suspects got away empty handed.

Now he is appealing on people to install CCTV cameras and receive the appropriate advice to deter thieves.

He added: “In my particular instance, I was away when my house was raided.

“Luckily I had CCTV in place and I warned the police.

“Our jewellery was safe but they maliciously damaged our property.

“It is happening too often since the price of gold has gone up – in three years I have seen it go up than in the last ten years.

“People must stay vigilant.”

Harjap Singh, chairman of the Sikh Council Hampshire and general secretary of Gurdwara Nanaksar Southampton, said some women have resorted to wearing artificial jewellery in public instead.

He told the Daily Echo there are regular meetings with the police on the subject as they work together to stop it happening.

He said: “A lot of people have stopped keeping gold now.

“Quite a lot of people go for artificial jewellery because it’s not a risk. In older times it was a lot more honest.

“Societies are more amalgamated than before and some information is passed on to others, so they can target the easy pickings.

“People should look at ways of keeping jewellery secure – put it in banks rather than keeping it at home.

“A number of people have been affected but most are reported by police.

“We have meetings with the police and we held one last week to discuss this issue.

“They are trying to do as much as they can but unfortunately not all crimes are solved.

“We do have awareness campaigns with Gurdwaras and the temples to warn people it does happen and to keep windows secure and closed.”