Published: 12 January, 2017
By WILLIAM McLENNAN
THIEVES posing as immigration officers carried out a violent burglary in Regent’s Park, leading to fears that criminals are picking victims on the basis of their nationality.
A group of men, said to be wearing “fake uniforms”, kicked down a woman’s front door and held her hostage for a short time while they searched through the flat in Harrington Street under the pretext of looking for immigration documents on Saturday afternoon.
The victim, a 34-year-old Bengali woman who speaks limited English, was home alone when the suspects pressed the buzzer to the block and demanded to be let in.
Her husband told the New Journal: “My wife answered and they said they were immigration officers. She didn’t open the door, but somehow they got inside the block. They tried to kick down my neighbour’s front door and then they kicked down my door.
“Two people went into the living room and told my wife to stop and wait where she was. The rest of the guys, they went into the bedroom and searched through our things. They took some money and some other personal items.”
When the woman tried to question the men, she was threatened with a knife.
“My wife left the back door a little bit open and she managed to escape and run into the road,” he said. “She is in a state of shock, but she was not injured.”
He added: “Since this happened many local residents are scared now. There is no CCTV in the area. Camden Council should do something.”
Abdul Hai, who as the Town Hall’s cabinet member for community takes the lead on tackling hate crime, said he had been informed of at least one other similar burglary.
He said: “It seems that criminals are using ethnic profiling to commit crimes, which is quite disturbing. I’m sure people will be worried by this. Camden is a very diverse borough, we have lots of different ethnic communities that live side-by-side and this will worry people.”
He said that criminals have been known to target victims because they “may keep gold jewell-ery, which is a common thing in Asian communities”.
Councillor Jonathan Simpson, cabinet member for community safety, said: “Camden was made aware of this distressing incident and officers from the council’s Housing Department and Community Safety Service have visited the family to provide reassurance, support and help with additional security.
“We will be reviewing safety and security in the area and will continue to work closely with the family and the police and keep them informed about any developments.”
A Met Police spokeswoman said that officers were called to reports of an “aggravated burglary” and discovered that “a number of men forced entry to the address and threatened the female occupant with a knife before stealing a number of items”.
Detectives from Camden CID are investigating and anyone with information is asked to contact them by phoning 101.