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Why an international crime ring is targeting homes in one Virginia neighborhood

Posted at 6:13 PM, Apr 10, 2023

GOOCHLAND COUNTY, Va - Blooming cherry trees dot the entrance to the Rivergate community in eastern Goochland County, just off Patterson Avenue.

Behind the secured front gate sits multi-million-dollar homes. Homes authorities now believe an international group of thieves has targeted.

In December 2022, January 2023, and early March, Goochland Sheriff’s deputies said a group known as the South American Theft Group broke into three different Rivergate homes.

Rivergate neighborhood in Goochland County, Virginia
Rivergate neighborhood in Goochland County, Virginia

In each instance, the thieves forced their way into the homes through back patio doors.

The burglary ring is made up of people who travel to the U.S. on tourist visas, and law enforcement across the nation said they have been responsible for millions of dollars in property theft over the past several years.

A resident of Rivergate, whose home was not targeted, spoke to CBS 6 about the thefts but asked their identity not be revealed. They have lived in the community since the early 2000s.

“Oh, no! This is sacred land. Nothing like the ever,” the resident said. “Alarmed, unnerved, and perturbed. And curious, just sort of wanting to know more.”

Goochland deputies said they were partnering with law enforcement nationwide and the FBI to investigate these break-ins. Deputies could not release more details, they said, citing the ongoing investigation.

Goochland County Sheriff

Vanity Fair recently published an extensive investigation into “tourist burglars.”

Officials said the first groups began operating in the U.S. in 2014 and have targeted high-end homes across the country, from coast to coast.

The magazine reported that many of the burglars originate from Chile, and the groups might be connected to a broader criminal syndicate. Most of the burglaries happen at times or periods when people were clearly not home.

They target money, jewelry, and high-priced fashion, according to the report.

Goochland officials said anyone with information about the break-ins here should contact their office at 804-556-5349. Officials said the incidents serve as a reminder to make sure their homes are secure, alarm systems armed, and jewelry or valuables are secured.

This is a developing story, so anyone with more information can email newstips@wtvr.com to send a tip.

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