The quest for gold is driving a new wave of criminals in Loudoun County. Jewelry and other valuables have been snatched from seven homes since December. Sheriff's deputies think the burglaries are connected.
Neighbors say minorities are being targeted. Many of the victims are Indian or Asian. The burglars strike when no one's home, and every time, they sneak off with gold.
"We are really concerned over here. Almost everybody I know in the neighborhood is concerned. We have been exchanging emails, phone calls with each other," said Loudoun Valley Estates resident Narender Gupta.
Gupta is organizing a neighborhood watch group after two homes here in Loudoun Valley Estates were broken into in one week. He says the victims are Indian and Middle Eastern.
"A lot of people have security systems in this community, but it appears that robbers are disabling it, pulling it off the wall," Gupta said.
"There was a group just a few years ago that went through doing the same type of breaking and entering and looking for gold," said resident Becky Williams.
The metal's value shot up more than 500 percent since 2001. Williams knows a mother on Freeport Place that is shaken over becoming one of the latest victims.
"With the children..She said they're a little upset. She didn't want to put herself out there in the public," Williams said.
The Loudoun County Sheriff's Office is investigating seven similar burglaries since December that all happened between five in the evening and 11 at night. In most cases, the suspects entered through a rear door or window when no one was home. More than $100,000 worth of jewelry is missing.
Now, an alert is going out.
"There was a voice message system that came out from the Sheriff's Office just saying that your neighborhood has been targeted," Williams said.
Nicholas Cumba lives in another neighborhoodtargeted on February 9th. He says he feels for the victims, particularly because he's been one before.
"I never felt the same in that house after that happened," Cumba said.
His home was robbed years ago. Cumba moved to Braddock Corner a few months ago for the peace that came with it, but realizes you can never get too comfortable.
"It does make me a little cautious," Cumba said.
Cash and electronics were also taken from some of the homes.
Loudoun county sheriff's deputies are upping patrols, urging residents to stay vigilant, and asking anyone with information to come forward.