Victim: East Indians targeted by burglars

Vancouver family robbed Mondayof $40K in valuables

By Patty Hastings, Columbian breaking news reporter

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After an East Indian family was robbed of more than $40,000 worth of jewelry and small valuables Monday morning at their home on Northeast 128th Court, the family is saying this burglary was one of many targeting East Indian families in the Portland-Vancouver area.

Shirali Patel, 32, said someone broke into her family's home through a sliding glass door while they were away and made off with traditional Indian jewelry and small valuables. The burglar also took antiques, designer bags, some small electronics and about 10 traditional Indian silk dresses.

In Asian cultures, passing down jewelry from one generation to the next is tradition and a way of blessing the family, Patel said. Her family was devastated.

"These are things that can't be replaced," she said.

When she did some research and talked to her friends in the East Indian community, she learned other families have been targeted. She said that in all of the cases, the burglar went through a back sliding glass door and took only small valuables, namely traditional jewelry made of 22-carat gold.

"I can only imagine how hurt they feel," she said.

She said typically these families work hard to maintain tradition and keep their jewelry, even during tough economic times.

In total, she said, she found about 30 different Indian families have been robbed in the last nine months in the Portland-Vancouver area. She's encouraging families in the community to get a safety deposit box and upgrade their security systems to include sensors on glass doors.

"I want this to stop before it gets to another family," Patel said.

The Vancouver Police Department could not be reached for comment. Patel said police told her that at least two people were involved in the break-in, but there are no leads on who did it.

Patty Hastings: 360-735-4513; http://www.twitter.com/col_cops;patty.hastings@columbian.com.