Police say jewelry theft ring targeted South Asians
Five Toronto-area police forces say they have dismantled an organized crime group that targeted residential homes for the valuables they had inside, particularly for gold jewelry that could be resold.
Police say the group targeted homes in Toronto, as well as in York, Peel, Durham and Halton regions, most often robbing South Asian families.
Det. Sgt. Marie Greer told ctvtoronto.ca that the group specifically targeted communities with "a high number of South Asians."
Police allege the group broke into homes and stole high-quality gold jewelry, cash, passports and electronic equipment.
Greer said groups of three or four men would approach a home of interest and knock on the front door.
If no one answered, the men broke into the home. If someone came to the door, the men would pretend to be looking for someone who didn't live at the residence, Greer said.
Police say the stolen jewelry was then sold to two Toronto stores - Ashok Jewellers and Dubai Jewellers - that are only a few blocks apart from one another on Gerrard Street East.
During a series of raids on Wednesday morning, police from Toronto, York, Peel, Durham and Halton, arrested 22 people, aged 17 to 50.
Most of the arrested suspects were under the age of 30.
"It's an organized crime group, no doubt," Greer said, when describing the group's level of criminal sophistication.
"It's not just a group of kids or young people that are going out on their own to do these entries. They're given direction of where to go and then those people are getting a cut."
Greer said police laid 170 charges on Wednesday alone, though some of the suspects didn't appear in court until Thursday.
The so-called "Project Dish" raids came following a four-month investigation into the robberies.
"Our project has been going for about four months, but these have been going for quite some time before that," Greer said. "We're talking quite a long time."