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Police: Jewelry thieves targeting older Asians in Rochester

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ROCHESTER, Minn. (KTTC) -- Police are sounding the alarm about a string of thefts in Rochester targeting the older Asian community.

The Rochester Police Department said there have been three incidents in the last week where jewelry was stolen. Every single victim didn't know it had happened until after the incident.

Each of the crimes followed a similar pattern. A vehicle would approach the victim, and someone would get out and put a piece of jewelry on the victim, like a necklace or a bracelet.

Police said the whole thing is a ruse. It's a distraction while someone removes the victim's own jewelry.

The thefts were happening last year, and police said they are starting up again.

In one theft on May 11, a 69-year-old Asian man lost $11,000 in jewelry.

He was mowing his yard in the 2000 block of 9th Avenue SE when a vehicle pulled up to his residence, according to police. The man approached the vehicle because he thought he recognized someone inside.

Officers described the suspects as from the Middle East. One woman put a necklace around the victim's neck along with some other jewelry. When the man went back in his home to show his wife, he realized his own necklace and bracelet were missing.

There was a similar theft that same day. A victim was out for a walk in the 5000 block of 25th Avenue NW when a silver Chrysler Pacifica pulled up next to him.

Police described the suspects in that incident as an Arab man and a white woman. Children were also in the minivan.

The suspects gave the man jewelry as well. After they left, the man realized he was also missing his valuables.

In a different incident on May 14, a 65-year-old Asian woman's jewelry was stolen outside of Rochester's Home Depot. The jewelry is worth about $1,500.

Police said a man got out of a gray vehicle and approached her with jewelry, putting it on her neck and wrist. He also gave her a $5 bill, according to police.

Like the other victims, the woman didn't realize her valuables were gone until it was too late.

If something like this happens to you, police urge you to leave the area and contact law enforcement.

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Byron Tollefson

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