High-end Michigan burglaries tied to Chilean crime ring, prompts police task force

They target the richest homes in the neighborhood. They bring equipment that can jam security alarms. They wear all-black, face masks, and gloves.

The high-end burglary problem in Oakland County has escalated to the point that a new task force has been created to stop the

 transnational gangs that have targeted the high-end mansions that dot the Southeast Michigan county.

Convened by the Oakland County Sheriffs Office earlier this week, the Southeast Michigan Collaborate Arrest and Prosecute (SEMCAP) team is made up of more than 30 agencies ranging from local police departments to the federal government.

"This group is very methodical," said Sheriff Michael Bouchard. The robbers 'have used things like trackers on cars, they've used trail cams to do pattern of life to determine when you're coming and going."

Bouchard believes the group that's targeted homes in Oakland County are of Chilean-origin based on recent arrests of another gang in the county. The sheriff said four suspects tied to a separate jewelry theft ring were from Chile. Other apprehensions made in other states have also been tied to Oakland County robberies.

At least 30–40 burglaries have happened since September. Without any progress in stopping the criminals, a partnership will serve as a "force multiplier" for the agencies trying to prevent another robbery, Bouchard said.

The suspects like to target the biggest homes because of the loot they can secure - mostly through jewelry and cash. Home surveillance footage shows the suspects even escaping with full-sized safes that are taken apart at a separate location.

The materials that are stolen from homes are frequently shipped to large port cities where a fencer moves them out of the country.

The crime spree is significant because of the tactics the gang has used, Bouchard says. They use jamming equipment that can disrupt frequencies between security systems, preventing alarms from going off as the individuals break into the home. 


Midwest 'crime tourist' ring suspected in high-end Oakland County burglaries

Sources said in some cases – hundreds of thousands of dollars in valuables are gone, and it’s believed an international crime ring is behind it all, so-called crime tourists.

They often target homes with woods or a golf course in the backyard that gives the suspects a way to approach the home without being seen. 

Catching the perpetrators has proven tough because of how transient they are, rarely staying in one location for too long before moving to the next community. 

SEMCAP includes police along the Woodward corridor, from Auburn Hills and Canton, to the FBI and Michigan State Police. However, homeowners are also asked to be on the lookout for any suspicious activity, ranging from unknown vehicles to unusual internet outages.