NY jewel thief admits targeting South Asians

Melinda M Soto, 34, of Queens, detailed in federal court in Alexandria on Friday how the gang of three burglarised 37 homes in Fairfax and Loudoun counties, two Washington suburbs in neighbouring Northern Virginia, and stole gold and other valuables worth more than $5,00,000.

Soto also agreed to testify against her husband, Dagoberto Soto Ramirez, 27, who faces trial next month, and their friend Francisco Gray, 39, who was deported to Peru after an initial series of cases against them collapsed in Fairfax and Loudoun courts.

Modus operandi

Raman Kumar, one of the first victims who attended many of the hearings in Fairfax, said the families had long wondered how the New Yorkers figured out who they are and where they live. Soto provided some answers on Friday.

Soto said she and her associates knew that some South Asians keep large amounts of gold in their homes. So they scanned the White Pages online for the addresses of people with South Asian-seeming names and then used a Global Positioning System device to find the actual addresses.

The victims still hold out hope of recovering some of the stolen items. Kumar said: “Most of them was heirloom jewellery, which money can’t replace.”

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