The public is getting its first look at a burglary crew suspected of making short work of a string of wealthy Silicon Valley homes, and authorities say they are professional "burglary tourists" from South America.
Last week, the Chronicle reported on a string of very organized, very clever, and very lucrative robberies in the tony San Mateo suburb of Hillsborough the the local police department attributed to “burglary tourism” gangs that they “believe arrived from Chile.” This assessment was based on a similar M.O. used in several other robberies in the area that we talked about last month, where the thieves were astonishingly efficient at getting in, finding and removing safes full of valuables, and getting out in a flash.
Recognize them? They broke into a home near Eugenia Way & Butternut Drive & are linked to other burglaries in the town & region, per @HillsboroughPD, adding the thieves stole the resident’s SUV that was later recovered pic.twitter.com/TiM9GvN1WT— Henry K. Lee (@henrykleeKTVU) March 13, 2022
Well, we now have video of what is suspected to be the same gang of thieves, provided by Hillsborough police to KTVU. Their burglary of another nearby residence shows the same pattern of ruthless efficiency. While there is no evidence to the lay person that these suspects are “Chilean,” “South American,” or “criminal tourists,” they are clearly incredibly well prepared, seasoned cat burglars who know exactly how to locate and move the most expensive items, and no match for even the most sophisticated Silicon Valley home security surveillance systems.
"I’m Ringed out. I’ve got a Ring on the door. I’ve got internal Rings, you know, that kind of thing. I’m doing what I can," burglary victim Dave Wierdsma told KTVU. While Wierdsma lives some 30 miles away in Fremont, the same patterns were observed in the burglary of his home as are seen above.
Hillsborough police say that "criminal tourists" are to blame, and that the suspects are “burglary crews from South America.” Wierdsma also told police that he believes the thieves that hit his apartment came from South America. This may be correct, but the police seem to have more evidence that has not been made public.
We may know the answer soon enough, though. KTVU adds that “one member of the current crew targeting Hillsborough homes has been identified, and an arrest warrant has been issued.”
These robberies, according to the FBI, have been happening in wealthy enclaves across the U.S. and in Europe for a while now. And the crooks are entering the country easily from Chile because it's one of 38 countries that's allowed to send citizens to the U.S. on the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) for up to 90 days, without obtaining visas.
A Chilean TV journalist, Javiera Rodríguez, told the LA Times, "There are many Chileans who, being criminals here, travel abroad because they can obtain better treasures."
Image: @HillsboroughPD via Twitter