Five Colombian nationals held for burgling bungalows

Five Colombian nationals held for burgling bungalows

The arrested Colombian nationals.

The Bengaluru city police on Tuesday arrested five Colombian citizens, including a woman, who broke into six bungalows and made away with valuables.

The arrested are identified as Jose Edwardo alias Arevalo Burbano (40) from Bogota; Gustavo Adolfo alias Jaramillo Giraldo (47) also from Bogota; Yair Aleberto alias Rozer alias Smith Duarte (45) from Medellín; and a couple Eduard Alexis alias Garcia Peramo (38) from South Bogota and Kinberly Jhoarya (30) from San José.

Adolfo is an MBA from the Francisco de Paula Santander College in Colombia, while Edwardo and Aleberto had studied only till high school. Aleberto had a fake American passport with his Colombian passport, which the police have seized. Alexis had done a food handler course, while his wife Kinberly was a dropout from a course of foreign trade in the Colombia International Business Technology College.

The couple travelled to Mumbai on tourist visas in the first week of June after booking a villa via an online portal, while the other gang members had arrived in Kathmandu in the last week of May and obtained e-visas to enter India. They first travelled to Delhi and then to Bengaluru.

The police first examined CCTV footage and collected technical evidence before beginning to track the gang that moved to the city in the first week of June and stayed in service apartments.

The gang bought a Chevrolet hatchback car on, an online classifieds site, and drove around Bengaluru to shop for tools for their house break-ins such as gas cutters, electric cutters, gas welders to melt gold, gloves, crowbars, hammers and Swiss knives. The gang also bought pre-activated SIM cards, besides five mobile phones from a mall. They also acquired walkie-talkies from Mexico to stay in touch while burgling houses.

After a couple of break-ins, they sold the Chevrolet on the same website and bought a new car for their next series of thefts.

Modus operandi

The gang's modus operandi was quite simple: they would cruise around the upscale neighbourhoods using Google Maps, spot empty houses with no cars in the garage and no lights inside.

Covering herself with a headscarf, Kinberly would press the bell and throw stones at the window to confirm the house was empty. She would call the gang outside by walky-talky and stand at the entrance, while three of the gang members would break in and burgle. One man would wait in the car.

Among the buildings they broke into and entered were the house of former chief secretary Kaushik Mukherjee, from where they took away diamonds, golden ornaments and other valuables worth INR 80 lakh. The police recovered imported watches, pens, foreign currency notes and Mukherjee's exclusive stamp collection albums.

While news of a South American gang prowling around the city's neighbourhoods might have shocked many Bengalureans, the police said the city is becoming a prime target for foreign criminals, owing to its cosmopolitan nature and new economic status as a properous metropolis.

Not the first time in Bengaluru 

This is not the first time a foreign gang has committed thefts in the city. Two of the Colombian gang previously entered India in 2016 through the porous Nepali border. They arrived in Bengaluru, where they befriended an African man and a woman at Black Knight's Club, and committed a few thefts. While the police arrested one of the Africans, the rest fled the country. Back in 2010, one of the gang members and his associates had committed thefts in a hotel.

Embassy informed 

The Consulate of Colombian Embassy in India has confirmed that the police has informed them about the arrest of the five Colombian nationals, while refusing to reveal any more information. "We are not allowed to give any more details," a consulate official told DH.

Meanwhile, the city police have appealed to service apartments, hotels and lodges to get a copy of the passport, visa  and other travel documents from foreign nationals while offering them accommodation. They asked house owners to follow the same procedure while renting out their houses to foreigners on platforms such as AirBnb.

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