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Community Service Message: Rallying against Robberies Targeting Indian Houses

October 2011
Community Service Message: Rallying against Robberies Targeting Indian Houses At about 8:45 p.m., on September 15, when Ajay and Bina Amin* of Alpharetta stepped out of their car in their garage, they were taken by surprise by three armed gunmen. For the next 90 minutes, Ajay, Bina, and their 15-year-old son were forced to lie face down on the floor while their house was ransacked from corner to corner. The ordeal ended, thankfully, without any physical harm to the Amins, but it left them with intense feelings of fear, anger, and helplessness.

The incident is disturbing enough happening to any one family; but what has many Indian-Americans worried is a trend that has emerged over the past year where Indian homes are specifically being targeted by criminals throughout the country.

According to Detective Will Merrill of the Alpharetta Police Department, to the best of his knowledge, there have been roughly 40 incidents of burglaries (when no one is in the house) and home invasions (when owners are present) combined, targeting Indian houses in Cobb, North Fulton, and Gwinnett counties alone.

Indian homes are being targeted because it is believed they tend to hold cash and gold jewelry more so than others. Far from being true for many Indian homes, such a perception has nevertheless made all of us equally susceptible to crime.

Over 150 community members came together in a meeting organized by the Georgia Indian Associations Network at the Palace Indian Restaurant in Norcross to address these concerns. Detectives Scott Vash and Will Merrill from Alpharetta, detective N. D. Washington from Gwinnett, and Executive Assistant District Attorney Todd Ashley from Fulton addressed the gathering.

Following are some of the suggestions made by the law enforcement officials as well as by some of the burglary victims present at the meeting who now have a better idea on safety precautions:

• Don’t keep a large amount of cash or jewelry in the house. Use safety deposit boxes at banks.

• “Security system, lights, and dogs” is how Detective Merrill described his preferred system. Indeed all of the officers present stressed the importance of a security system tied up to a 24-hour monitoring service.

• Wireless panic-button devices are recommended by many security consultants for when you are alone and vulnerable in your home.

• Have adequate lighting in all the four exterior corners of your house. A dark perimeter surrounding the house is an invitation to burglars.

• Strive to deal with trustworthy service-providers when it means giving them access to your house. Also hide valuables and safes when such strangers will be working in your house.

• Be vigilant. Ensure that you and your house are not easily “cased” by prospective robbers. If you see any suspicious vehicles lingering around your house or street, feel free to call the non-emergency number of your local police department. Not only do they not mind this, but they encourage it.

• Be an active part of your neighborhood watch. If there isn’t one in your neighborhood, start one. Pay attention to your subdivision’s Facebook page or Web site, where vigilant neighbors often comment on loitering teenagers or suspicious cars.

• When coming back home from banks (after using your safe deposit box), from the Indian store, or from events where a visible amount of jewelry is worn, be particularly alert to ensure you are not being followed. If you have reason to be concerned, slow down, stop or turn into streets other than your home steet to shake off anyone following.

For more information and updates on crimes targeting us, you may consider registering at a website created by concerned South Asians in the region:

* Names changed

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