South American organised crime gangs are travelling to the UK to burgle homes and are sending the multi-million-pound plunder back to Chile.
In the past two years, 75 Chileans have been arrested for breaking into affluent homes in suburbs across the country and Scotland Yard is actively seeking the UK-based leadership of the gang who is coordinating the criminal enterprise, according to a series of exclusive reports by The Times.
Police have arrested thieves following some 200 South American gang-related burglaries in counties in the commuter belt around London including Hertfordshire, Kent, and Surrey but also as far afield as Wales and in the south-west county of Somerset.
It is believed that a new crime gang is being sent to the UK every two weeks, with police gearing up for another series of raids as the coming winter allows the thieves to target homes under the cover of darkness.
There have been 36 arrests made so far this year, and the gang is believed to be active in other European countries such as Spain.
Inspector Ivan Villanueva, a senior police officer in Santiago, Chile, told The Times: “These are Chilean specialist criminals moving abroad to commit crimes.”
“They have identified that certain societies in Europe are more vulnerable to certain kinds of robbery,” he added.
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DNA from one burglar was traced to six other robberies across the country. When caught, the thieves are found without identification but the Chilean authorities have been assisting British police where it is found the suspects have criminal records in their home country.