Raiders ransack Crawley family’s home and steal pet


Burglars stole thousands of pounds worth of jewellery and an African Grey parrot from a family home.

Dipali Limbachia, 52, said the criminals poured bleach on the contents of his ransacked home in Applefield, Northgate, on May 23.

Mr Limbachia said: “The place was gutted, everything was upside down.

“It’s family jewellery and now it’s all gone.”

The burglary took place while his family were out from around 1pm to 7pm.

Mr Limbachia said: “We heard the bathroom tap running, I saw the loft ladder and said what the hell’s happened here.

“Then it clicked in my head.”

His daughter Puja, 19, phoned the police while he surveyed the damage and asked his neighbours for information.

He added: “I don’t know where everything is because of the bleach.

“The police said it was just to cover their tracks.”

Mr Limbachia lives with his wife Shilpa, 50, son Punit, 25, and Puja.

The thieves took wedding presents from his and his wife’s parents and family gifts for their children.

The Limbachias were ‘devastated’ by the loss of their pet parrot, Shami, 12.

Mr Limbachia said: “The worst thing was the parrot.

“It was a member of the family.”

The Limbachias asked people in shops and clubs in Northgate if they had seen it following the incident.

Mr Limbachia said: “Shami has been with us since he was a chick.

“We’ve been calling around, on Facebook, Twitter, going round all the shops, clubs, all around Northgate.”

The incident followed a spate of thefts of gold from Asian homes during the end of 2013.

Mr Limbachia said the thieves went through four gardens and a neighbouring metre-thick hedge to gain entry through his house’s rear patio doors.

He said: “They’ve used crowbars, you can see the marks on the walls.

“You think, why yours? They could’ve gone to other places which were easier.”

H e added he had followed police advice on safeguarding against burglary and thought his house was secure.

Bharat Lukka, 50, of Southgate, a governor of the Gurjar Hindu Union in Northgate, said the union’s community feared leaving their homes because of the burglaries.

He added: “Something needs to be done very quickly because people are frightened.

“Numbers have halved at the temple’s day care centre because people are not leaving their homes any more.

“The way these burglaries are done - serious injuries or personal attacks could be next.”

Mr Lukka called on Sussex Police to take “serious action” to tackle the issue.

He said: “I was born and bred in Crawley and I’ve never seen anything like this.

“You can understand if it’s only recent but this is been going on for 18 months now.”

Inspector Rachel Carr, of Sussex Police, said: “Gold is being stolen by criminals across the south east because of its high value at the moment but there is nothing to suggest that Asian people are being specifically targeted by burglars.

“We are investigating a number of burglaries across West Sussex over the last few months but this does not appear to be a series aimed at victims because of their race or religion.

“A dedicated team of detectives are catching and charging offenders across the county every week as part of Operation Magpie, the force’s crackdown on burglars.”