“I know someone who lost close to £50,000 of jewellery.
“Another lady, whose only savings were her jewellery, went out shopping, came back and found she had lost everything.”
Councillor Tahir Maher was describing a spate of gold thefts which affected the Asian community of Earley near Reading last year.
Shakeel Khan, a local resident, decided to set up a neighbourhood watch scheme after his uncle, cousins and neighbours were targeted.
He said people were living in fear of being burgled.
Both now say the situation has hugely improved in Earley due to better policing, but elsewhere in Berkshire gold theft remains a problem.
In Slough, Asian gold thefts accounted for a third of all burglary offences last year, numbering 300 in total.
Asian families are being targeted by thieves due to the high price of gold and the tradition of giving and receiving high carat gold jewellery within their communities.
Police say the thefts are carried out by a number of groups, including organised criminal gangs from overseas, London and the Midlands.
Police fear that number of burglaries in Slough could increase due to the wedding season over the spring and summer, traditionally a time when overseas visitors come to the area with gifts of gold for newly married couples.