Indian-American residents of Middlesex County, New Jersey, are frightened and frustrated after a spate of home invasion robberies targeting their community has cast a pall on Diwali, a week-long Hindu celebration full of gifts, which is also a time many people bring their gold jewelry out of safe deposit boxes.
A fifth Indian-American family was recently tied up with duct tape and robbed at gunpoint by masked men who forced their way inside the home. The men made off with cash, jewelry, and electronics. The previous four incidents occurred during the last two weeks of October—Diwali was October 22 this year—and the fifth was over Thanksgiving weekend.
According to the 2010 US Census, Middlesex County has the largest population of Asian Americans in New Jersey, with 725,726 Asian Americans accounting for 21.4 percent of the county’s population. At 104,705, Indian Americans make up 60 percent of Asian Americans in the county. With such a large concentration of Indian Americans, the community feels especially vulnerable, especially as the geographical range and the level of force seems to be increasing.
Hundreds of residents showed up for a recent security seminar and town hall meeting with police and local officials, and reported that although Diwali-season burglaries have been occurring for ten years, the police still have not increased preventative patrols in heavily Indian-American neighborhoods during Diwali and that not enough South Asian police officers have been hired.
Middlesex County Prosecutor Andrew Carey advised residents, “Be vigilant, watch neighbors’ homes and call police regarding any suspicious activity.” He also advised residents to make certain their homes are secure.