Woodbury's Indian community on edge amid burglary resurgenceThe horror is still fresh for one Woodbury woman. While on a Mexican vacation in 2008, she received word that the house she and her family live in had been burglarized. They returned from the trip to find virtually everything of value in their house gone. Jewelry. Electronics. Cash. The family car.
By: Mike Longaecker, The Hastings Star-Gazette
The horror is still fresh for one Woodbury woman.
While on a Mexican vacation in 2008, she received word that the house she and her family live in had been burglarized. They returned from the trip to find virtually everything of value in their house gone.
Jewelry. Electronics. Cash. The family car.
Thousands upon thousands of dollars’ worth of property had been taken.
“There was no end to the list,” said the woman, who asked that only her first name, Kusum, be used.
Nearly three years later, Kusum, who is of Indian descent, is back on edge – not because her family has again been victimized, but because of a resurgence in Woodbury burglaries that she and others believe are targeting people of Indian ancestry.
Two burglaries in September have raised fear among members of the Woodbury Indian community that they could be next.
“The community is quite concerned that this has not stopped,” said Kaleel Ahmed, a Woodbury resident and native of India.
The concern, Ahmed and Kusum said, is that Indians are being targeted because of a perception that they possess large amounts of jewelry.
“That’s exactly what it is,” Kusum said, wondering aloud whether the price of gold has been precipitating the crimes. “Certainly there is a pattern.”
Jewelry, Ahmed said, is an element of Indian culture.
On Sept. 6, Woodbury police responded to a burglary alarm in the 9200 block of Wedgewood Point. In that instance, the burglars forced their way into the house and apparently spent their time inside the master bedroom while the residents were away.
An estimated $35,000 in jewelry and cash were reported stolen from the home.
Five days later, police responded to another burglar alarm, this one at a home in the 8200 block of Ashford Road. In that case, the homeowner – who also wasn’t home at the time – reported nearly $15,000 worth of jewelry missing in the forced-entry burglary.
Both of the September burglaries involved Indian families. Helping to bolster fears has been the fact that the burglars forced their way into homes armed with alarm systems and continued on after the alarms were tripped.
“So that makes us worried,” Kusum said.
Woodbury police, however, say they’re not yet ready to connect the dots.
“It’s tough to say they’re targeting Indian families,” said Woodbury police commander Jay Alberio.
He said jewelry-related thefts have been occurring around the city, but noted that those also involved people not of Indian descent.
Still, Alberio acknowledged some criminals may be operating under the perception that Indian natives keep large amounts of jewelry at home.
“There may be some out there with that belief,” he said.
The issue has been enough to spur Kusum and others into action.
Members of the Woodbury Indian community formed a task force in response to the burglaries. The Woodbury Indian Action Team met Sunday to discuss the resurgence in burglaries among Indians. The group released a statement Monday saying it will reach out to Woodbury police for assistance and support.
“It’s come to the point where we are not feeling so safe,” Kusum said.
Action team organizers emailed members of the Woodbury Indian community seeking input, but response has been light, Kusum said. She suspects some burglary victims may be hesitant to step into the light.
“When it happens, you feel very violated,” she said.
After some initial optimism when a few missing items were recovered, police eventually closed her burglary case. Kusum said connections leading to possible suspects dried up once the investigation led toward Edina.
Alberio said there have not been any suspects identified in either of the September burglaries. He said burglaries are among the hardest cases to solve. If investigators don’t find fingerprints or DNA evidence, they’re usually left scouring pawnshops in hopes of dredging up stolen goods.
He advised anyone in possession of a large amount of jewelry to consider securing it in a bank’s safe deposit box or in a high-quality safe bolted to the ground.
“Make it harder for the burglar to get it,” he said. “They know they have a certain amount of time they can spend inside a residence.”