A starling new development reveals South American criminal tourists are on home invasion sprees targeting wealthy neighborhoods across the US, according to Daily Mail.
South American thieves exploit the US' immigration system for travel as they target multi-million dollar homes in liberal-controlled areas with relaxed criminal justice laws.
Police from around the country report some of these criminal tourists are from Colombia and elsewhere in South America. They have ransacked mansions in California, New York, Virginia, Texas, Georgia, North Carolina, and South Carolina.
Law enforcement experts say these professional burglars exploit a 2014 visa waiver program intended to promote tourism. Called the Electronic System for Travel Authorization, it's an automated system that determines the eligibility of visitors to travel without obtaining a visa.
Earlier this year, the FBI busted one of these gangs in Virginia who stole an estimated $2 million worth of goods from mansions owned by Asian and Middle Eastern families. Officials said those homes were targeted because they had lots of high-value jewelry and cash.
The thieves chose Virginia because of the state's lax bail laws and could skip bail and exit the country with the loot. The thieves were also connected to burglaries in Carolinas, Georgia, Texas, and a brazen $1.2 million jewelry heist in Southern California.
Police in Nassau County, New York, arrested criminal tourists from Chile who broke into multi-million dollars homes and stole jewelry and cash.
In the San Francisco suburb of Hillsborough, where a home's average price is $5.4 million, a group of criminal tourists from Chile and Colombia looted homes in multiple neighborhoods. One of the incidents was caught on cameras as the thieves emptied a house.
Professional thieves from abroad have found a 'sweet spot' in exploiting a travel program on top of relaxed criminal justice laws that have made targeting wealthy Americans very enticing without limited repercussions because they can easily flee the States if caught.