South American gangs are being investigated over burglaries of jewellery from Asian homes.

The criminals are on the radar of Sussex Police detectives as they work to solve dozens of raids on homes in the north of the county.

Officers are trying to find the owners of the jewellery pictured, which includes rings, brooches, necklaces, which they believe was discarded by the crooks because it was less valuable.

They have posted photographs of the swag on a special internet site.

Last year, 34 crimes in Crawley were deemed to be part of a spate of 50 in which homes where large amounts of jewellery was stored were targeted by criminals.

Much of the jewellery was for use in religious festivals.

The total value ran into hundreds of thousands of pounds.

Police working on Operation Minnesota have declined to comment officially on the background of their suspects, but The Argus has learned South American gangs form part of the inquiry.

Similar crimes have been reported in London and elsewhere in the country.


A woman and seven men have been arrested and released on bail as part of the operation.

An Essex man, Patrick Coyle, 24, was arrested and charged with burglary after a police car chase through Crawley on October 12.

Detective Inspector Tracy Edwards said: “We are looking at international criminal links along with other police forces.

“This is a national problem, not just a local problem.”

Two crimes in Brighton and Hove in which Asian homes were targeted for jewellery remain unsolved, but are not believed to be linked to the Crawley spate.

Officers say four victims from Sussex have been reunited with their jewellery so far.

Detective Constable Graham Leaney said: “Some of these items may be costume jewellery, but they have significant personal value to the owners.

“We have been robust in policing the affected areas and the series of burglaries has ceased locally.

“However we would want the public to remain vigilant and report any suspicious activity.”

To look at the photos of the discarded jewellery, visit the website property.sussex-police.\minnesota.

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