Manuel Eduardo Fuentes Gomez : “Tourist Burglars Spreading Fear”

South American Thieves Targeting Exclusive Neighborhoods Across the Valley

In a recent string of burglaries, police in Gilbert, Mesa, and Chandler have joined forces with their counterparts in Phoenix and Scottsdale to investigate over 100 break-ins in affluent neighborhoods. The culprits are believed to be part of a highly organized gang of South American thieves who have made off with an estimated $3 million worth of cash, jewelry, and credit cards.

### Modus Operandi of the Thieves

The gang, often referred to as the “dinnertime bandits” due to their tendency to strike in the early evening, targets high-end homes located near washes, parks, or preserves. They carefully observe their targets for days before breaking in through a rear window and heading straight for the master bedroom. These thieves are known for their precision, stealing only easily portable valuables and using equipment to bypass WiFi security systems.

### Nonviolent Approach

Fortunately, the South American burglars have not shown any inclination towards violence. When confronted by homeowners, they quickly flee the scene without engaging in any physical altercations. This nonviolent approach has been noted by law enforcement officials in Scottsdale and Phoenix, providing some reassurance to residents in the affected neighborhoods.

### Valley-Wide Investigation

The scope of the investigation is vast, with Phoenix Police looking into multiple cases of burglary linked to this gang. Scottsdale Police have already tied 33 burglaries to the same group, while Mesa Police are investigating nine to ten cases dating back to November 2023. Gilbert Police and Chandler Police are also actively involved in probing similar incidents within their jurisdictions.

### International Connections

Authorities suspect that the syndicate responsible for these crimes is based in Santiago, Chile, with members using fraudulent identification documents to avoid detection. The thieves take advantage of the Tourist Visa Waiver Program, allowing them to operate in the United States without obtaining a visa. Similar crimes attributed to Chilean thieves have been reported in other cities across the country.

### Community Vigilance

Law enforcement officials are urging residents to remain vigilant and report any suspicious activity in their neighborhoods. Tips such as photographing unfamiliar vehicles and keeping doors and windows locked can help deter potential break-ins. Increased patrols and collaboration between different jurisdictions are key to combating the organized crime wave sweeping through exclusive neighborhoods in the Valley.

In conclusion, the coordinated efforts of law enforcement agencies and community members are essential in combating the activities of these South American thieves. By staying alert and working together, residents can help protect their homes and prevent further burglaries in the area.

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