In the last few years, the cyber invasions into the U.S. by such aggressors in Russia and China have been well documented.
But now we learn that old fashioned crime rings are sending human burglars from Chile to steal from Southern California residents in their homes and businesses.
The Los Angeles Times reported that traveling bands of so-called tourist burglars from the South American country have become a growing menace in the United States. California’s Southland has been described as a hot zone for this crime wave.
A visa waiver program has helped some Chileans suspected of crimes to easily enter the U.S. legally.
Simi Valley police recently arrested three Chilean men on suspicion of multiple vehicle burglaries. Each was in the United States on temporary waivers, police said.
In January, four other Chilean men were arrested in connections with 20 home burglaries and other thefts from vehicles at golf courses in the same community.
In March, a crew believed to be connected to a Chilean ring pried into a Laguna Niguel jewelry store, stealing more than $1 million in goods.
Similar crimes have been reported in Texas, Arizona, Colorado, New York and other states, as well as several European countries, the FBI said.
An official with U.S. Customs and Border Protection, which enforces immigration policies, said the agency is aware of tourist burglars and is sharing information with law enforcement.
The Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) can be used to enter the U.S. for tourism, business, study or medical purposes for 90 days. The streamlined visa waivers are good for two years and can be used for multiple entries.
The well-financed criminals are stealing so much wealth that they don’t need to penetrate the border, but can fly in first class.
The crime patterns emerged in the last year, after crews employed inventive techniques to gain entry to properties, such as cutting electricity to a jewelry store in Orange County last month and waiting 24 hours for the alarm system’s batteries to drain.
In April, Simi Valley police arrested a crew with a jamming device that prevented car owners from locking their vehicles.
Last month, Chile’s government pledged to crack down on Chilean crews that have been committing hundreds of burglaries in the Southland and across other states.
America doesn’t need tourist burglars. We have plenty of home-grown criminals who plague U.S. businesses and residents working in professions and tough jobs, just to make a living legally.