Tradition among Indians to buy and stock up gold is proving to be dangerous for Indian-Americans here who are increasingly becoming victims of robberies where gun-totting thieves have fled away with their stockpiles of the precious metal.
Such robberies have particularly picked up pace among the fast growing Indian-American community in Silicon Valley, where "thieves, it appears, have learned of these traditions (among Indians to own gold), leading to a rash of robberies" in recent months.
Police officer Jeff Swadener of the Fremont Police Department was quoted as saying in a New York Times report that Indian-Americans were known for owning high-quality gold of 20 and 22 karats.
"With the price of gold surging since the recession began, that makes them lucrative targets."
Swadener said thieves would probably get "just as much" out of robbing a house with gold as they would get from robbing a bank.
According to the US Census, Indian-Americans are one of the fastest-growing communities in the Bay Area.
Fremont city councilwoman Anu Natarajian said the robberies have increased "significantly" over the past nine months.
"It is not a random thing that is happening. People are afraid. People are nervous about it."
Most of the thefts have happened while residents were not home.
In a recent case of robbery, an Indian couple and their 6-year-old son were held at gunpoint while thieves ransacked their home, ripped chains off the wifeŅs neck and snatched the husbandŅs bracelet.
In all the family lost gold worth over USD 25,000.
Krati Rungta, co-founder of a website for Indians, 'Bay Area Desi' said people were worried that their traditions had made them "easy targets."