Sheriff: Chilean gangs are back targeting high-end homes for burglaries in Oakland County

Oakland County Sheriff Michael Bouchard is sounding the alarm again - about the international crime ring targeting high-end homes in the area.

"Clearly, I think they're back," Bouchard said. "In the last three or four days, we've had a number of super, super similar what we call M.O.'s.

"The home is empty - very large upscale homes - backed up to areas with little, or no observation from neighbors."

The properties back up to the woods or a golf course where a team of burglars can go undetected. Months ago, the sheriff formed a task force and caught seven people from Chile who had been breaking in and getting away with millions.

Among the heists included $800,000 in jewelry and cash from one home, alone.

"The Chilean gangs have been hitting us very hard," he said. "Cash, jewelry, very high end purses - that's pretty much the target.

"They are super well-trained when they get here - highly organized. They look like ninjas they're all masked up, gloves - they each have a backpack with their particular set of tools for their job in the burglary."

In some cases, they even use a jammer on wireless alarms - the sheriff recommends hardwiring your alarm system - and be sure to turn it on.

Another home was targeted Friday night. The exact location or city has not been released yet.

The sheriff says make sure you have your local police department's non-emergency number programmed into your phone - it can make all the difference - especially if you're out of town.

"If you happen to be in Florida and your camera system alerts you to motion inside your kitchen - but for whatever reason your alarm wasn't set or didn't go off - and you dial 911 it's going to go to Florida," Bouchard said. "So now they're going to try to figure out how to transfer it."

Bouchard says that instance actually happened, and the victim wasn't able to get connected to the police department where their home was located. The sheriff also says - don't post on social media.


"A lot of people post a selfie - 'On my way to Florida for two weeks,'" he said. "Well now you've just told the whole world I'm leaving town - even if it's not these high-end folk  - there's a lot of people that troll Facebook and Twitter and social media. And you've just told everybody your house is empty."

The sheriff says no specific location is being targeted - instead it's the type of house. The Last time they hit Farmington Hills, Novi, Birmingham, Bloomfield, Franklin and Oakland Township.

All of the suspects arrested had come to the US through a Visa Waiver Program. Bouchard says changes need to be made.

"All of the intelligence estimates - just from Chile - we have 100-plus teams in operation right now in America - teams of four to six," he said.

"What we encourage Washington to do, is stop the Visa Waiver Program right now for Chile. That doesn't mean they can't visit but they just have to get a regular Visa which comes with a little more scrutiny."