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Thieves target cars parked at Sikh temples and steal credit cards Special

By Salim Jiwa     Jan 7, 2010 in Crime
Thieves are targeting cars parked in lots belonging to Vancouver area Sikh temples. They steal purses, cash and credit cards while people are worshiping. Cops say a credit card stolen from a car was used to pay for a 52-inch TV. A picture proves it.
ABBOTSFORD, B.C. - Cars parked within lots at Sikh temples around the Lower Mainland are being targeted by a group of thieves who break in and steal purses, cash and credit cards.
Abbotsford Police said two happy looking Indo-Canadian men went and bought a $3,000 big screen LCD television right after smashing a car's window at the Sikh temple and stealing a purse in which they found a credit card.
Abbotsford Police spokesman Const. Ian MacDonald said the card was stolen from the Sikh temple located at 30640 Blueridge Drive on Oct. 31 at noon.
A short time later, two men turned up at an Abbotsford electronics store and bought the expensive television set. Both men appear to be smiling as they exit the store carrying a large box containing the TV set. They were caught on surveillance cameras.
MacDonald said a detective did some legwork and soon found there have been similar incidents at temples in the Lower Mainland and in locations where large Punjabi market areas exist.
"Police believe the suspects in this case could be responsible for other thefts of credit cards from vehicles throughout the Lower Mainland (Delta, Richmond, Surrey, Langley and Vancouver)," said MacDonald.
"The suspects in these cases appear to specifically target the South Asian community by breaking into vehicles parked at Sikh Temples or South Asian markets," he said.
"Our theory is that these people are targeting temples when they know there is going to be worship," said MacDonald. "Initially we thought it was just a crime of opportunity, but our investigator found there is a pattern."
MacDonald also said there is a pattern of under-reporting of crimes within the community and therefore there is a likelihood some of the thefts from cars parked at Sikh temples may not have been reported.
Police are hoping now that some members of Sikh congregations will recognize the two men photographed walking out of the electronics store and call cops.
Even though people mostly park their cars in gated compounds around Sikh temples in the Lower Mainland, a South Asian person is unlikely to arouse suspicion. And people heading to worship or to participate in functions may feel more secure about leaving valuables inside cars since they are at a place of worship.
Police said one suspect is about 30, has medium build and black hair. Another is also Indo-Canadian believed to be in his 50s.
Anyone with information concerning these suspects is asked to call Cst. Maniwa at 604-859-5225 or CRIMESTOPPERS at 1-800-222-TIPS.
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