(JTA) — Gambling debts among haredi Orthodox British Jews spurred a spate of burglaries in Jewish homes and institutions, The Jewish Chronicle reported.
The London-based newspaper quoted Police Det. Allen Windsor as saying that “there have been a large number of burglaries at Jewish properties for a long time, but recently we have identified members of the Jewish community carrying out burglaries at communal buildings.”
On Thursday, the Chronicle reported that a recent break-in at the city’s Beth Shmuel Synagogue was attributable to gambling debts. Police arrested three Jewish suspects aged 17 to 19, and they admitted to breaking and entering the synagogue and taking keys to a car parked nearby.
Other incidents included the theft of a car and the robbery last year at the home of a Jewish charity director. The alleged car thief is said to have been planning to use the proceeds to feed his gambling addiction, while the alleged burglar owed $48,000 to an Israeli gang, the paper said.
The Chronicle also reported that a 23-year-old London Jewish man will stand trial next month after denying four charges of burgling a Jewish primary school.
Rabbi Chanan Tomlin of the United Kingdom’s Kids Trust charity said there was a “significant” gambling problem among strictly Orthodox communities in Manchester.
“Poker is a problem among yeshiva students," he said. "There is a poker culture among these young Jews. Some of them are going to casinos and some are addicted to scratch cards.”