A jewel thefts jaunt
South Americans accused over $500,000 robberies
A GROUP of supposed funloving South American students visiting Sydney were in fact part of a “fly in, fly out”style crime gang sent to steal jewels and cash, police allege.
Two Chilean members of the alleged gang, which had been under surveillance by NSW detectives, were just moments from flying to Santiago when police boarded the plane and arrested them on Saturday. The pair had hastily booked flights the day before, after police arrested another alleged gang member.
A fourth man, from Colombia, was also arrested at the airport before he boarded a flight. The four are due to face a Sydney court today.
Police are still looking for other alleged gang members.
“They are highly organised and very professional in the use of distraction techniques,’’ Property Squad head Chief Inspector Gary Hutchen said
Police allege the gang had sophisticated mobile phones and earpieces to communicate and wore disguises when they carried out at least 17 robberies netting well over $500,000 in cash and jewels across Sydney.
The group would allegedly watch banks, from inside or outside, until a large withdrawal was made and then alert other gang members. They also targeted the Sydney Jewellery Convention Centre.
Distraction techniques included using a spike to flatten a target’s car tyre, and when he went to change the tyre another gang member would bump into him and spill a drink on his jacket, police allege. The apologetic person would put the jacket in the car, where a third gang member would steal the jacket containing the money or jewels.
“Other distractions included using cash to tell (the target) they had just dropped money or asking for directions,” Insp Hutchen said.
Stolen cash and jewellery was transferred or mailed overseas, he said.