South American ‘burglary tourist gang’ ransacked Marcus Wareing’s £7m home and stole £33,000 haul of jewellery and watches – after marking out mansion with orange dots
- Michelin-starred chef’s Wimbledon home was broken into in October 2018
- Gang from Chile marked properties in the area with orange dots on the fences
- Four men smashed through patio doors and ransacked the master bedroom
- Mr Wareing’s collection of watches and wife Jane’s precious jewellery nabbed
- Masterchef star said: ‘The loss of the jewellery and watches is deeply upsetting’
Masterchef star Marcus Wareing’s £7million London mansion was raided by a team of ‘burglary tourists’ who jetted in from Chile and took his watch collection including his prized gold Rolex and his wife’s Louboutin shoes.
The Michelin-starred restaurateur’s Wimbledon home was broken into in October last year by a South American gang who sprayed a small orange spot on the chef’s fence to remind them of their targets.
Mr Wareing was at his second home in Kent with his wife Jane when Danko Carvajal-Donaire, 20, Claudio Donoso, 20, Nicolas Portilla Astorga, 27, and Jorge Rojas, 22, smashed their way in through the six-bedroom property’s patio doors and grabbed £33,000 of valuables from their bedroom.
The Chileans took his gold Rolex, a pair of Omega watches worth £12,000, and another watch engraved with ‘Hell’s Kitchen’ – a curious nod to Mr Wareing’s mentor Gordon Ramsay who he famously fell out with, the Evening Standard has reported.
Jane Wareing’s valuable bracelets, earrings and gold chains, a £1,500 Cartier watch, £520 Louboutin shoes and a locket with irreplaceable pictures of her beloved father were also stolen.
The thieves, who were arrested days later on their way to burgle another London property even posed wearing some of the valuables – but only a small pendant has been recovered.
Mobsters have been sending teams to target houses in London and the Home Counties for at least eight years with the thieves recruited in South America and sent to the UK for two to three days to burgle as many homes as possible before fleeing home.
Chef Marcus Wareing and his wife jane were burgled by a South American gang who jetted in to London to ransack mansions
Burglars Danko Carvajal-Donaire and Nicolas Portilla Astorga flew in from South America and even posed wearing the couple’s stolen jewellery, which they then got rid of
Outside Mr Wareing’s house the gang sprayed an orange dot on his fence with the judge who jailed them warning others to be aware of the sign
This pendant was one of the many valuable items taken by the gang of ‘tourist burglars’
In 2015 a Colombian female kingpin living in West Norwood was rooted out and jailed after masterminding 800 burglaries but the gangs are still hitting high-value houses, often in London’s richest suburbs or in Asian communities where residents often have large amounts of gold at home.
Some teams never even left the airport, grabbing suitcases from carousels and taking any valuables from inside before dumping them in arrivals.
Mr Wareing told Kingston Crown Court his family’s loss of sentimental items in the raid had been ‘enormous’, adding: ‘The loss of the jewellery and watches is deeply upsetting’.
But he added: ‘We are pleased that the men have been caught and would like to thank Wimbledon police for assisting us during this time. They made us feel safe and secure again in our home and were utterly brilliant.’
Judge Jonathan Davies jailed the four men for three years and four months each and told them: ‘No one here or abroad should be under an illusion that somehow the UK is a soft touch. Each of you came to this country with one purpose — crime. No other reason for your visit to the UK has been offered to me.’
Mr Wareing, pictured in his home, revealed that the burglars took some of his most prized possesions
The group will be deported after they serve their time in prison.
The judge also raised the orange dots on the chef’s as a matter of public importance.
He said: ‘I mention that so others are made aware to be on their guard if they see such markings.’
Prosecutor Christiaan Moll said: ‘The master bedroom had been broken into and their possessions had been strung out all over the floor. There had been an untidy search of that room, which is on the first floor.
‘A double patio door which leads to a large balcony was smashed’.
The break-in is the latest in a pattern of burglaries by South American thieves whom the Metropolitan Police suspect are flown into the country by an organised network thought to be behind hundreds of such crimes.
The Metropolitan Police’s investigation, known as Operation Genie, began after a spate of burglaries in the south-west London and Surrey areas in 2017.
Typically the thieves targeted unoccupied addresses situated in rural areas, often near parks or golf courses.
How ‘burglary tourists’ from South America jet in and out of London in just two days after raiding as many mansions as possible
Colombian mother-of-two Claudia Santos, 40, helped mastermind as many as 800 burglaries targeting Asian families across Britain
South American gangs of burglars have targeted hundreds if not thousands of homes in the UK over the past decade with at least 100 thieves a year coming to the UK to raid mansions.
Scotland Yard launched Operation Phoenix, a multi-agency intelligence gathering operation involving the Met and several other police forces and agencies, which was set up to try to identity and dismantle the organised crime syndicate.
The group were largely focussed on gold burglaries of Asian families, with hundreds high value jewellery snatches of up to £300,000 each.
Many of the offenders were from Colombia or Chile and falsely claimed to be Mexican and Guatemalan and were entering the UK using bogus passports, mainly from Mexico.
The suspects then flew to Europe and entered the UK via the Eurostar into London.
They based themselves within Hispanic communities in the London boroughs of Southwark and Lambeth and initially all the thefts took place within the capital. Police said they were ‘extremely organised with all offences premeditated, researched and highly sophisticated’.
On arrival in the UK, the suspects were often taken to safe houses and then introduced to a life of crime.
Organisers within the group arranged for them to have access to second-hand vehicles registered to false names with fraudulently obtained insurance. This allowed the gang to travel around the UK and commit crime without fear of being stopped by police.
There had been a dramatic increase in Asian gold burglaries that could be linked to this group with Asian communities such as those in Crawley, Slough and Northampton being specifically targeted.
Police soon realised that smashing the gangs would need to involve close collaboration and intelligence-sharing between other law enforcement agencies including Home Office Immigration Enforcement, UK Border Force, the National Crime Agency (NCA) and ACPO Criminal Records Office (ACRO)
They also worked closely with the Mexican and Colombian Embassies as the majority of the offenders were believed to be of Colombian origin and staff fully co-operated to provide crucial information.
Working with the UK’s immigration enforcement representative in Bogota, officers were able to share information with the Colombian National Registry Office and forge contacts with the Colombian National Crime Bureau. With the help of the NCA and ACRO, fingerprints of suspects in custody in the UK were sent to be checked against their national register. This confirmed the offenders’ true Colombian identities and any previous convictions.
This process identified around 150 Colombian suspects who had entered the UK using false names, many with serious previous convictions back home for aggravated theft, drugs and violence.
The Met also set up Operation Genie after a spate of burglaries in 2017, suspecting that South American gangs were again behind the burglaries.