Burglaries by organized robbery ring put law enforcement on high alert

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Between $25,000 and $60,000 in cash, jewelry, purses and other valuables were stolen from each home.

SAN DIEGO COUNTY, Calif. — Three homes were burglarized over the weekend — two in Rancho Santa Fe and one in Rancho Bernardo — with another attempted burglary in Poway according to the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department.

Between $25,000 and $60,000 in cash, jewelry, purses and other valuables were stolen from each home.

The Sheriff’s Department believes these burglaries are tied to an organized robbery ring, which the FBI calls the “South American Robbery Group,” and they’ve been robbing homes in San Diego since May 2021.

“They’re targeting high-end residences that are backing up some type of greenbelt, open space, hiking trail, golf course,” said Detective Justin Cole, who is working the case for the Sheriff’s Department. San Diego County with San Diego Police Department and Federal authorities.

“They tend to be in upscale neighborhoods with gated communities. Crews know that most alarm systems are only on the first floor, so they try to target the 2n/a floor to enter the residence,” Detective Cole said. “They will target the master bedroom, master bedroom closet, master bathroom because that’s where most people keep their valuables.”

And usually they target homes to be burglarized at certain times.

“Most of the time burglaries happen within the first 2-3 hours of sunset,” Detective Cole said. “That’s why we ask residents during these times to be hyper alert to anyone walking along the golf course or hiking trail behind homes, any group of 2-3 men, definitely call us.”

Detective Cole says law enforcement followed this group and found that these young men usually used a visa waiver program enter the United States on a tourist visa.

The only South American country currently eligible for the Visa Waiver Program is Chile.

“They are mostly all Chilean nationals,” Detective Cole said. “They pay their $18, then they check a few boxes online, and because Chile is part of this visa waiver program, they can enter the country and get a 90-day tourist visa. They continue to commit crimes until they are arrested or deported.

Detective Cole encourages people to protect their homes in several ways.

“The best would be to update the alarm systems, and really think about arming the 2n/a floor, broken glass and window sensors, or motion sensors inside their master bedroom,” Detective Cole said. “We ask that you obtain camera systems that alert directly to your phone, that alert you to movement and lock up all high end valuables if you are away for an extended period, preferably offsite in a safe. “

If you see suspicious activity related to these types of incidents, we encourage you to call 9-1-1.

RELATED WATCH: SDPD: High-End Heists Have Stopped for Now in La Jolla (February 2022)

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