There have been numerous burglaries of homes in London and the Thames Valley, as well as in Surrey, Hertfordshire, and Kent over the last two years. It turns out a wave of what The Times dubs “burglary tourism” is underway, as a gang of Chilean thieves is hunted down.

The Chilean gang has a British leader and Scotland Yard is currently trying to hunt him down. However, 75 Chilean nationals have been nabbed over the last couple of years in burglaries of expensive watches, jewellery and designer clothes. Just one burglary netted as much as £400,000 for the crooks.

Chilean gang posts their spoils back home

According to the Metropolitan Police, who have arrested 36 of the Chilean gang members this year, they are getting ready for a new group, who tend to rob homes in the winter and in the dark of night. After the gang steals the luxury items, they post them back to Chile.

The Daily Mail reports that the gang members meet up with a contact, believed to be located in south London. That contact takes their identification and belongings and then hands the crooks a car and phone before sending them to rob homes they have identified as being unoccupied at certain times of the day.

In every robbery, the burglars use low roofs or garden furniture to give them access to a first-floor window. This is after the gang established that many home alarm systems only operate on the ground floor of the homes.

Not just Britain being targeted by Chilean gangs

It turns out it is not just British homes that are targeted by the Chilean gang, as they are also known to be active in European countries – especially Spain – and the United States and Canada.

However, in Britain is raises the question if lax background checks being run on foreign nationals.

Citizens of Latin American countries reportedly do not need a visa to enter the UK and can stay for a period of up to three months. Successful arrests follow the use of automatic number plate recognition by Scotland Yard, which identifies the burglars’ vehicles, leading to vehicle stops throughout the country.

Homeowners advised to bolster security

Detective Inspector Tim Court, who works in the Metropolitan organised crime command, has advised homeowners to beef up their security in both their gardens and also the first floor of their homes.

Court went on to explain that the targeting of the homes by the gang is highly sophisticated. He said the homes were often large and located next to parkland or golf courses, where few people are around at the time. Court went on to explain how the burglars were using garden furniture or ladders they find on the property to access the first floor of the homes.

This is reportedly the signature of the Chilean gang and has helped Metropolitan Police to link hundreds of the burglaries. Under the title “Operation Genie,” the Met’s investigation of the burglaries has had a number of breakthroughs for the police. One example was a crate full of jewelry and other expensive items which was intercepted at Heathrow Airport before it was sent out.