Sat. Apr 20th, 2024
alert-–-chilean-gang-raids-wealthy-detroit-suburb-mansions-as-chilling-surveillance-catches-them-loot-$800,000-worth-of-jewelry-and-cashAlert – Chilean gang raids wealthy Detroit suburb mansions as chilling surveillance catches them loot $800,000 worth of jewelry and cash

An international ring of thieves has returned to an upscale neighborhood in an outer suburb of Detroit to target high-end homes.

Oakland County Sheriff Michael Bouchard says the thieves are ‘clearly’ back after a ‘number of super, super similar’ instances over the last several days.

‘The home is empty – very large upscale homes – backed up to areas with little, or no observation from neighbors,’ he said.

Months ago, Bouchard formed a task force to combat the area burglars and apprehended seven Chilean citizens, who’d been robbing local affluent homes of millions-of-dollars worth of possessions.

One home was robbed of $800,000 in jewelry and cash.

Gangs of thieves, mostly from Columbia, Chile, Ecuador and Peru, have become a significant problem in affluent suburban areas across the country.

Criminal groups arrive in the US via a 2014 visa waiver program, take an upscale neighborhood for millions of dollars and flee back to their home country.

Expensive-looking homes in affluent suburbs of Detroit have been targeted by South and Central American gangs of robbers who exploit a US Visa Waiver system to enter the country, rob wealthy Americans and return to their home countries

Expensive-looking homes in affluent suburbs of Detroit have been targeted by South and Central American gangs of robbers who exploit a US Visa Waiver system to enter the country, rob wealthy Americans and return to their home countries

‘The Chilean gangs have been hitting us very hard. Cash, jewelry, very high end purses – that’s pretty much the target,’ he said.

‘They are super well-trained when they get here – highly organized. They look like ninjas they’re all masked up, gloves – they each have a backpack with their particular set of tools for their job in the burglary.’

South and Central American Gangs, like the one terrorizing affluent Oakland County families, often use jammers on wireless alarm systems so families are entirely unaware they’ve been burgled until they return home to the crime scene.

Bouchard says he recommends area families hardwire their alarm systems and ensure they are turned on.

The situation in Michigan is so dire that Bouchard warned locals not even to so much as post on social media when they’re planning to be out of town.

‘A lot of people post a selfie – ‘On my way to Florida for two weeks,’ Well now you’ve just told the whole world I’m leaving town – even if it’s not these high-end folk – there’s a lot of people that troll Facebook and Twitter and social media. And you’ve just told everybody your house is empty,’ he said.

The thieves are specifically targeting expensive-looking homes, he added. The last time the band of criminals assembled in and around Oakland County, they hit houses in Farmington Hills, Novi, Birmingham, Bloomfield, Franklin and Oakland Township.

These criminals, like other South and Central American gangs executing similar crimes across the country, have come to the US via a Visa Waiver Program that needs to be changed promptly, said Bouchard.

‘All of the intelligence estimates – just from Chile – we have 100-plus teams in operation right now in America – teams of four to six,’ he said.

‘What we encourage Washington to do, is stop the Visa Waiver Program right now for Chile. That doesn’t mean they can’t visit but they just have to get a regular Visa which comes with a little more scrutiny.’ 

Oakland County Sheriff Michael Bouchard says he recommends area families hardwire their alarm systems, ensure they are turned on, and not post to social media when they leave the area

Oakland County Sheriff Michael Bouchard says he recommends area families hardwire their alarm systems, ensure they are turned on, and not post to social media when they leave the area

South and Central American Gangs, like the one terrorizing affluent Oakland County families, often use jammers on wireless alarm systems so families are entirely unaware they've been burgled until they return home to the crime scene

South and Central American Gangs, like the one terrorizing affluent Oakland County families, often use jammers on wireless alarm systems so families are entirely unaware they’ve been burgled until they return home to the crime scene

Law enforcement experts say the foreign cells of professional burglars - mostly from Columbia, Chile, Ecuador and Peru - enter the country illegally or exploit a 2014 visa waiver program intended to spur tourism from dozens of trusted countries

Law enforcement experts say the foreign cells of professional burglars – mostly from Columbia, Chile, Ecuador and Peru – enter the country illegally or exploit a 2014 visa waiver program intended to spur tourism from dozens of trusted countries 

Experts say the issue has been increasing over the past five years, as South Americans continue to use the tourist visa system to rob Americans.

Law enforcement experts say the foreign cells of professional burglars – mostly from Columbia, Chile, Ecuador and Peru – enter the country illegally or exploit a 2014 visa waiver program intended to spur tourism from dozens of trusted countries.

The program, known as ESTA – Electronic System for Travel Authorization – allows South Americans to enter the United States for an unlimited number of 90-day periods. 

After entering the country, they carry out strings of break-ins and other crimes, bringing home up to hundreds of millions of dollars in stolen goods, according to the FBI. 

Beautiful multi-million homes in-and-around Los Angeles have experienced a virtually identical string of break-ins as those occurring in Michigan.

Just south of LA in more conservative Orange County, District Attorney Todd Spitzer has gone full boar on the crime tourists who have been behind hundreds of break-ins.

Spitzer’s argued that the Chilean government, led by socialist President Gabriel Boric, refuses to give the US criminal histories of Chileans who use the program, which other South American countries typically do. 

He’s even sued the federal government for not disclosing negotiations with Chile over visa requirements and is calling for new laws to stop these criminals from getting into the country.

‘The number of crimes tied to these kind of crews are way, way up,’ said LAPD Deputy Chief Alan Hamilton, despite, by some metrics, overall burglaries in the city being down. 

He said that in one part of Los Angeles alone, there were 94 burglaries believed to be committed by the ‘crime tourists’ in 2023. 

The visiting criminals are emboldened by their discovery of a 'sweet spot' in the American criminal system because their offenses don't meet the requirements for federal investigation, and are often overlooked

The visiting criminals are emboldened by their discovery of a ‘sweet spot’ in the American criminal system because their offenses don’t meet the requirements for federal investigation, and are often overlooked 

LAPD Deputy Chief Alan Hamilton said that the groups are rarely armed and will more likely use 'jamming' devices to access a home's WiFi and potentially unlock home security systems in affluent neighborhoods

LAPD Deputy Chief Alan Hamilton said that the groups are rarely armed and will more likely use ‘jamming’ devices to access a home’s WiFi and potentially unlock home security systems in affluent neighborhoods

Hamilton told the LA Times that these groups are rarely armed but are more likely equipped with what’s known as ‘jamming’ devices to access a home’s WiFi and potentially unlock home security systems in affluent neighborhoods.

The visiting criminals are emboldened by their discovery of a ‘sweet spot’ in the American criminal system because their offenses don’t meet the requirements for federal investigation, and are often overlooked. 

What’s more, no cash or low bail law allow the repeat offenders endless opportunities to continue to the brazen heists, even after being caught. 

FBI Special Agent Daniel Gimenez said members of a criminal tourist gang in Texas made between $20,000 to $100,000 per jobs. 

In 2022, the FBI busted one of the groups in Virginia, who exploited the state’s lax bail laws to steal more than $2 million in a string of burglaries targeting high-end homes of Asian and Middle Eastern families before skipping bail and fleeing back home.

The network of thieves were also connected to a series of burglaries at homes across the Carolinas, Georgia and Texas, as well as a $1.2 million jewelry heist in Southern California. 

The FBI say the investigation began after a string of break-ins in homes in Fairfax County, near Washington DC. But they were unable to make any arrests. 

Detectives said Asian and Middle Eastern homeowners were targeted because the thieves believe that people of those cultures keep a lot of high value jewelry at home and have cash-oriented businesses. 

Dan Heath, a supervisory special agent with the FBI’s criminal investigations division, said ‘South American theft groups,’ are a growing plague throughout the United States – and in countries including India , Britain and , where they often employ similar tactics.

In January 2022, British authorities took down dozens of crime tourists from Chile who stole more than $200,000 in a spring of robberies across the UK.