3 Chilean nationals accused of burglarising high-end Michigan homes

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Three Chilean nationals have been arrested in connection with a series of burglaries of mansions and other high-end homes in suburban Detroit and across Michigan. The charges were announced Monday by Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel who said the three are suspected in eight break-ins after they arrived in the Detroit area on a February 1 flight from Los Angeles. Nessel called them part of “an international crime ring” that “targeted lavish homes of affluent Michigan residents.” They “employ technology to thwart alarm systems and take extensive precautions to avoid being identified on home security systems and to avoid leaving forensic evidence at the crime scenes,” Nessel told reporters.

Several law enforcement agencies believe the crimes are conducted by “non-citizen, temporary residents from countries in South America who travel to the United States and the state of Michigan specifically to conduct these burglaries,” Nessel added. “There are more out there.” Each of the three is charged with conducting a criminal enterprise and home invasion. They currently are being held in Indiana for similar burglaries there. Over the past few years, high-end homes in Southern California, especially in San Diego County have been broken into.

Last week, Oakland County Sheriff Michael Bouchard announced the creation of a new task force to address the rise in break-ins in Michigan. The task force includes officers from more than two dozen police departments. They will be assisted by the FBI and other federal agencies. Bouchard said five homes were burglarised in one recent weekend in Bloomfield Hills and nearby Bloomfield Township, and seven others were targeted over Thanksgiving weekend.

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“They very often try to approach homes in a secluded manner – from woods, for example,” Bouchard said. “They’re looking for jewellery, cash, safes, even a larger safe. They’ll take that with them and try to brute-force it open later. In one of the few times when they went into a house and the people were home, as soon as they found out, they ran.” Nessel also announced the arrests of two Detroit men and a Detroit woman in connection with an organised retail crime ring involved in stealing merchandise from Lululemon and Ulta stores across the Detroit area. They are believed to be involved in at least 30 incidents since December 2022. Losses exceed USD 200,000, Nessel said.

“Small organised groups have been observed to enter a storefront, grab as much high-value merchandise as they can carry or load into a shopping basket and simply walk or run out the front door to an awaiting getaway vehicle,” she said.