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South American burglary rings in US plant hidden cameras in neighborhoods to spy on future victims
Image Source: Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department screenshot

South American burglary rings in US plant hidden cameras in neighborhoods to spy on future victims

Burglary groups exploit Visa Waiver Program.

South American burglary rings in the United States on tourist visas are planting hidden cameras in neighborhoods to spy on future victims and time their break-ins, the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department recently warned.

According to law enforcement, one local resident found a camera and a battery pack in a flower bed. Images published by the Lost Hills station showed the camera wrapped in leaves to conceal it.

'Sophisticated method to gain a view of residences and know when homeowners would leave.'

"[South American theft groups], often comprised of Chilean or Columbian nationals, are highly organized criminal enterprises that travel from state-to-state committing burglaries and thefts," the sheriff's office wrote. "Their members are often in the United States on limited tourist visas."

They noted that the thieves use "natural surroundings such as leaves and bushes" to conceal their cameras that record homeowners' activities and patterns.

"The group utilizes remove access technology to monitor the live feed from hidden cameras, enabling real-time surveillance and reconnaissance," authorities warned.

Before planting the surveillance devices, the groups will conduct "extensive scouting to identify optimal locations for hidden camera placement, focusing on areas with minimal visibility."

The sheriff's office urged California residents to be vigilant and to look out for any potential suspicious activity in their neighborhoods.

Last week, Glendale police officers arrested four Columbian nationals for their suspected involvement in a "burglary tourism" ring, KABC-TV reported. The individuals were apprehended following a traffic stop. Inside the vehicle, authorities discovered a "video surveillance device with a battery pack charging system camouflaged with leaves."

"This evidence, combined with the finding of freshly disturbed dirt in a planter in the cul-de-sac, led Glendale detectives to believe that the suspects had strategically placed the camera in the planter. This method allowed them to create a sophisticated method to gain a view of residences and know when homeowners would leave," authorities reported. "While fleeing from officers, the suspects began discarding evidence from their car."

Police officers also seized a construction hard hat and vest, a WiFi signal jammer, and several jewelry boxes.

"Signal-blocking devices allow individuals to unlawfully enter homes undetected. This technology disrupts home WiFi systems, cutting the feed of traditional home security systems and cameras, and rendering them ineffective in alerting homeowners or law enforcement to the presence of intruders," police explained.

Los Angeles Police Department Deputy Chief Alan Hamilton told the Los Angeles Times in March that organized theft rings are not new to the area but are becoming more prevalent.

"The number of crimes tied to these kind of crews are way, way up," Hamilton told the news outlet. "They often target homes often connected to open spaces, hiking trails and canyons that give them access."

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Candace Hathaway

Candace Hathaway

Candace Hathaway is a staff writer for Blaze News.
@candace_phx →