Around 300 Chilean burglars have been flown to the UK by criminal gangs to target the homes of the rich and famous over the past three years.
The scale of ‘burglary tourism’ from South America emerged as two thieves were jailed for stealing £170,000 of shotguns, computers, jewellery and watches in 12 days.
The pair targeted multi-million-pound homes in Cheshire villages including those of former Manchester United goalkeeper Tomasz Kuszczak and Olympics boss Andrew Anson.
Mr Kuszczak, 38, watched on helplessly on his mobile security app as the Chileans hit his home in Prestbury.
Jorge Pinto Vallejos, 27, (left) and Jamie Duarte Vera, 40, both from Chile, were jailed for three years and eight months and three years and four months, respectively
CCTV showed a four-strong masked gang dragging the Polish footballer’s safe, weighing almost 16 stone, into the garden to steal jewellery and other valuables worth around £80,000. Two of them – Jorge Vallejos, 27, and Jamie Duarte Vera, 41 – were caught eight days later when they returned to Mr Kuszczak’s £2million home to rob it a second time.
Newly installed motion sensors alerted the star who called police, Chester Crown Court heard. The pair were arrested after a chase across a golf course. The other two raiders have not been found.
Brett Williamson, prosecuting, said Vallejos and Duarte Vera arrived in the UK weeks before the first raid on a mansion in Alderley Edge on December 16. Within 12 days they hit another four homes, often shimmying up pipes and smashing windows to get in.
Mr Williamson said detectives from the Metropolitan Police revealed the pair were among 300 Chileans arrested since they launched a specialist investigation into burglaries in London and the Home Counties three years ago.
The stolen haul included a £30,000 Patek Philippe watch (similar to image shown )
Among those targeted in the capital were celebrity chef Marcus Wareing in 2018. The raids last December marked a change in tactics, with the gangs moving north to target villages in Cheshire’s ‘footballers’ belt’.
Detective Constable Louise Holman, of the Met Police, said: ‘These burglaries follow a pattern of targeting affluent areas, mainly in winter where safes are targeted and whole safes stolen.’
Among the items stolen from one address was a £30,000 Patek Philippe watch, the court heard.
Police discovered a photo of it on Vallejos’s mobile phone as well as evidence other jewellery was sent back to Chile within days of being stolen – some sewn into clothing. No jewellery has been recovered.
In one of the raids the thieves also unwrapped and stole the family’s Christmas presents.
Mr Anson, chief executive of Team GB, said his family felt ‘violated’ after the £25,000 raid on his £1.8million home in Alderley Edge four days before Christmas.
Mr Kuszczak said the raids had a ‘huge impact’ on his family, adding; ‘Every noise in the house leaves us wondering if the offenders are returning.’
Vallejos admitted five burglaries and one attempted burglary, and was jailed for three years and eight months. Duarte Vera pleaded guilty to three burglaries, one attempted burglary and going equipped for theft. He got three years and four months.
The two men were sentenced at Chester Crown court on Friday, as Judge Simon Berkson labelled the men ‘determined criminal burglars’
By Andy Dolan for the Daily Mail
A gang of Romanian ‘crime tourists’ flew to the UK to steal cash and goods worth £200,000 from more than 30 homes.
Ninel Spiru, Avram Spiru and Nicolae-Bogdan Baiceanu, looted properties during a three-month rampage which began last November.
During the gang’s raids across the West Midlands and Staffordshire, they stole jewellery from widowers, First World War medals and children’s christening bracelets. At one home in Tividale, the trio even swiped a child’s piggy bank.
They are believed to be linked to a gang, also hailing from the city of Constanta, led by Catalin Zaharia and his money-launderer wife Florina Spiru. The group of five was thought to have raided up to 400 houses across the region, before being jailed last October for a total of 27 years and four months.
The three gang members are believed to be linked to another gang led by Catalin Zaharia (right) and his money-launderer wife Florina Spiru (left)
At one home in Tividale the heartless trio of Ninel Spiru, Avram Spiru and Nicolae-Bogdan Baiceanu even swiped a child’s piggy bank (pictured)