Thieves target families with large amounts of family jewels

Thieves target families with large amounts of family jewels »Play Video
A gold bracelet is all the Sugumarans have left of their family jewelry collection.

BEAVERTON, Ore. – Thieves are apparently targeting local families that keep large amounts of jewelry, especially gold, stored in their homes, and many of the victims have relatives in, or originally from, India where gold has been handed down for generations as family heirlooms.

People can make a pretty penny selling gold at pawn shows right now. Gold is hovering near $1,600 an ounce.

In March KATU News spoke to victims of one of these burglaries. The Sugumaran family lost all but a single bracelet to thieves who broke into their home in Beaverton. They lost hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of heirloom jewelry during one of the burglaries. Gold jewelry is often passed down generation to generation in the Indian culture as a wedding gift.

The Washington County Sheriff's office says it now looks like burglars may be staking out families they believe have expensive jewelry in their home, and they appear to be very selective about which homes they’re targeting and when.

"About four burglaries in the last four months where there's been large amounts of jewelry taken," said Sgt. Bob Ray with the sheriff’s office. "We don't want to get into specifics of exactly what was taken, but there were large amounts of jewelry."

Some of the victims apparently weren't gone from their homes for very long before the thieves broke in.

Once inside the thieves don't stay long. The sheriff's office described the burglaries as "smash and grab," meaning the thieves don't take much time to go through the house for anything but the jewelry. Then they flee before anyone can respond to the burglar alarm.

The sheriff's office is working with other agencies in the metro area after a series of similar break-ins around the region. People in the local Indian community say they know of a couple dozen homes that have been hit across the metro area recently.

The Washington County Sheriff's Office urges anyone with valuables in their home to either invest in a safe that might deter burglars or rent a safe deposit box to put valuables in to keep them away from thieves.