THE number of burglaries targeting Thurrock's Asian households for gold has increased.

The borough's Independent Advisory Group to the police raised concerns over the issue as burglary was discussed at a public meeting being held by the Police and Crime Commissioner for Essex on Tuesday evening.

Thurrock has an Asian population of around 4000 but in the last year 15 homes have been targeted for gold, three per cent more than last year.

The IAG expressed concern over the increase and Cllr Yash Gupta compounded those worries on behalf of the Asian community. He said: "In terms of statistics, it might be just 15, but from those victims' point of view it is one important one for them. I think it's difficult for officers to understand that, and the impact it has on the family and the neighbourhood."

Incidents of burglary have increased in Thurrock by 18.3 per cent from July 1 2012 to June 2013.

But Det Insp. Tracy Wheeler, who runs a dedicated burglary investigation team in Grays, said "good old fashioned hard work" and officer knowledge is helping in tackling the problem.

She said: "I have an excellent team. They know local offenders so often they will be coming to me with who they suspect committed burglaries the night before.

"A lot of it comes down to good old fashioned hard work and detectives that are well trained."

With regards Asian households being targeted, Nick Alston, the PCC said he was aware of the issue and added that quite often these are gangs targeting properties with gold in them.

Det Insp. Wheeler said: "I feel slightly more at ease knowing it's still at a low level."