A DEDICATED team tasked with solving high-value gold thefts across the West of Scotland is collaborating with officers from other forces in England.

As exclusively revealed in Tuesday's Evening Times, around 30 arrests have been made in the hunt for jewel thieves with around £2 million worth of goods stolen across Sctland since July 2017.

The crimes were related to the Govan, Dalmarnock, Bellshill and Kilmarnock areas. However, only £70,000 worth of gold has been recovered.

READ MORE: High-value gold theft crisis - Arrests made as Glasgow cops target jewel thieves after raids

Two high-value thefts in Uddingston recently left victims devastated at the loss of sentimental items.

The Evening Times understands a spate of similar burglaries have taken place across North Lanarkshire - and Stirling and Fife - since the New Year.

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DI John Morrison, who is leading the specialist team Operation Suitcase which is probing the theft, said: "We’ve liaised with forces down south that were interested in a majority of the same group we were interested in. They’ve also been prosecuted. One person has been sentenced to nine years already."

Evening Times:
DI John Morrison is leading Operation Suitcase to crack down on the crime gangs

DI Morrison said they were doing all they can, reassured communities affected and said he was happy to meet them. Many of the crimes affect families of Asian or South Asian descent.

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DI Morrison, based at Govan Police Station on Helen Street, said: "If there’s an appetite round about communities, I’m more than happy to come out and meet with them face-to-face and discuss things and give advice.

"But the biggest thing is to raise awareness. The community is the eyes and ears. If they’re not happy, feed it back. The only way we’ll deal with this is if we work together.”

The force has also urged communities not to put a wall up between themselves and cops.

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Members within the Asian community have told the Evening Times they feel let down with Police Scotland’s response to the crimes and want to know why more arrests are not being made.

DI Morrison said he “strongly disagrees” with this view.

Evening Times:
Thefts of high-value Asian gold peak around wedding season and religious holidays

He said: “It’s a very difficult crime to investigate. You’re dealing with crime groups that are very well organised, forensically aware and there’s no pattern.

“A lot of times, the housebreakings aren’t being noticed until the occupants get home from work. They could leave at 8am and not get back until 6pm when they realise their house has been broken into. That leaves a really big window as to when the crimes happen. A lot of times, we don’t have CCTV."

READ MORE: Asian households in Glasgow targeted by thieves looking for gold

DI Morrison continued: “Our advice has always been to encourage people not to keep high-value property in the house, be aware of suspicious activity in the street, people coming to the door, cold callers, be aware of their surroundings, unusual people and vehicles. We ask the public to use safety deposit boxes at private security companies, install CCTV, door locks, and doorbells with inbuilt cameras.”

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He added that the value of the gold being stolen is 22 and 24 karat and it’s unhallmarked.

"Unhallmarked gold, in UK goldsmiths, is high-value and very attractive. The value of gold always increases. It’s very easy to transport and get rid of. The items are very small and difficult to detect. It’s attractive to those involved in those doing it. It’s low-risk, high-return," added DI Morrison.