(New Castle, DE 19720) The New Castle County Division of Police along with several bordering state agencies and their federal law enforcement partners have identified a nationwide trend of residential burglaries perpetrated by groups known as “South American Theft Groups” or “Crime Tourists.” South American Theft Groups (SATG) are highly organized criminal enterprises that travel from state to state committing burglaries and thefts. SATGs will use advanced techniques to conceal their criminal activity. These groups are often unrelated to each other but use similar methods of targeting expensive homes and homes owned by Asian Americans.
Detectives from the New Castle County Division of Police have made several arrests of these groups who are often Chilean or Columbian nationals, however, this crime trend continues throughout the county and the country. The attached photographs are of burglars that have been arrested for burglary or who are currently wanted for outstanding warrants.
These groups are known to steal jewelry, watches, designer merchandise, cash, and gold bars. They will utilize radios, disguises, lookouts, and surveillance to case out potential homes in neighborhoods. Once they act, the group works fast to execute the burglary. Thieves typically ship the items they steal back to their home countries or attempt to sell the items prior to leaving.
So far this year the New Castle County Division of Police has responded to multiple burglaries of a similar nature. Detectives have made arrests in multiple incidents after working alongside agencies from multiple states across the country.
The Division wants to make the residents of New Castle County aware of this crime trend. We also encourage everyone to take additional steps to secure their homes and personal belongings.
1. Consult with your homeowner’s association on the installation of Automated License Plate Readers at the entrance/exit of neighborhoods.
2. Secure Doors and Windows: Install solid exterior doors with deadbolt locks and reinforced frames. Use high-quality locks on all doors and consider upgrading to smart locks for added security. Install window locks on all accessible windows and reinforce glass with security film or laminates.
3. Install a comprehensive home security system that includes burglar alarms, motion sensors, and security cameras. Display signs or stickers indicating the presence of a security system, which can act as a deterrent.
4. Install motion-sensor lights around the perimeter of your home, particularly near entry points. Ensure that pathways, entrances, and dark areas are well-lit to minimize hiding spots for potential burglars.
5. Join or establish a neighborhood watch program to create a sense of community and collective security. Communicate with your neighbors, report suspicious activities, and look out for one another.
6. Keep valuable items, such as jewelry, cash, and important documents, in a secure safe or lockbox. Avoid leaving valuable items in plain sight through windows or in easily accessible areas.
7. Maintain a well-maintained appearance of your home to deter potential burglars. Use timers for lights and electronic devices to create the illusion of occupancy when you’re away.
8. Avoid sharing vacation plans or posting about being away from home on social media. Burglars can exploit this information to target unoccupied houses.
9. Install security bars or grilles on vulnerable entry points such as basement windows or sliding doors. Consider reinforcing doors with door jammers or security plates to prevent forced entry.
10. Be aware of your surroundings and report any suspicious activities to local authorities. Consider installing surveillance cameras to monitor and record activities around your property.
11. Report suspicious persons and vehicles to 9-1-1.
The New Castle County Division of Police continues to work with surrounding local and state police agencies and federal law enforcement along with using the most current investigative tools to help prevent and solve these burglaries. Any individual who has information on the subjects in the attached photographs is asked to please contact the Criminal Investigations Unit at (302) 395-8110.