POLICE are hunting a gang who have stolen jewellery worth £40,000 in a string of daylight break-ins to homes in the Lothians.
Detectives believe the suspects are targeting jewellery to sell on the black market and the thieves have so far hit five plush homes in Bathgate, Broxburn and Uphall in West Lothian.
The stolen property mainly consists of gold jewellery, with owners left devastated after a number of family heirlooms were among the items taken.
Unusually, the thieves have not taken advantage of the dark nights over the Christmas period and have instead staged the break-ins during daylight hours.
Detective Constable John Irvine, from the housebreaking investigation team at Livingston CID, said: “These break-ins have taken place along what you could call the A89 corridor between Broxburn and Bathgate. We believe the same individual or individuals are involved in each of these incidents, targeting what they may consider to be affluent homes where there may be valuable jewellery inside.
“The stolen property has almost always been jewellery, which we believe may be intended to take advantage of the high price of gold. Such items are easy to get rid of very quickly on the black market.
“These break-ins have taken place during the afternoons, which is slightly peculiar, as they more typically take place during the evening at this time of year when it’s clearer that the occupants are not in.
“Some of the jewellery was of a considerable age, and has a great deal of sentimental value. As well as the owner’s feelings of invasion, they have been upset by the loss of heirlooms.”
The first of the break-ins took place at the end of November, with the latest raid happening on December 19 in Uphall when a front door was forced open. Two homes in Broxburn, two in Bathgate and one in Uphall have been targeted.
DC Irvine asked residents to be on the lookout for the jewellery being sold in the local area, but added that the culprits may well live outside West Lothian.
He added: “At this time we are reminding homeowners to be vigilant.”