4 alleged members of international 'burglary tourism' ring arrested in Glendale

The suspects allegedly used a video surveillance device camouflaged with leaves that was placed outside victims' homes.

Wednesday, May 22, 2024
4 alleged members of 'burglary tourism' ring arrested in Glendale
Four Colombian nationals suspected in an international "burglary tourism" ring were arrested after a traffic stop in Glendale, police said.

GLENDALE, Calif. (KABC) -- Four Colombian nationals suspected in an international "burglary tourism" ring were arrested following a traffic stop in Glendale, police said Tuesday, noting that it was the second recent arrest for one of the men.

Around 10:30 p.m. Monday, a Glendale police sergeant spotted a vehicle being driven without headlights on near the intersection of Emerald Isle and Kirkham drives, police said. A search of the vehicle turned up a "video surveillance device with a battery pack charging system camouflaged with leaves," police said in a statement.

"This evidence, combined with the finding of freshly disturbed dirt in a planter in the cul-de-sac, led Glendale detectives to believe that the suspects had strategically placed the camera in the planter. This method allowed them to create a sophisticated method to gain a view of residences and know when homeowners would leave," police added.

A construction hard hat and a vest, items typically used as a ruse to approach homes with minimal suspicion, were also recovered, along with several jewelry boxes, police said.

Detectives identified the suspects as 28-year-old Bryan Martinez Vargas, 28-year-old Jose Antonio Velasquez, 27-year-old Edison Arley Pinzon Fandino, and 29-year-old Luis Moreno.

The arrest was the second for Vargas in the past month. According to police, he was arrested April 30 along with 45-year-old William Guanume following a short pursuit.

According to police, officers responded around 3:30 p.m. that afternoon to the 4300 block of Boston Avenue on reports of a residential burglary in progress. Officers saw Vargas and Guanume leaving the area in a gray Toyota. The suspects were eventually located by other officers on the 2 Freeway, prompting a pursuit, police said.

"While fleeing from officers, the suspects began discarding evidence from their car," police said.

The suspects drove eastbound on the 134 Freeway and attempted to exit at Figueroa Street but could not negotiate the off-ramp turn. The Toyota crashed into a grassy hillside, where officers took the two suspects into custody, police said.

"The subsequent investigation found the discarded items were indeed stolen from the targeted residence. Notably, officers recovered a WiFi signal jammer, still on and operating," police said.

"Signal-blocking devices allow individuals to unlawfully enter homes undetected. This technology disrupts home WiFi systems, cutting the feed of traditional home security systems and cameras, and rendering them ineffective in alerting homeowners or law enforcement to the presence of intruders," police added.

Guanume and Vargas were being investigated for their alleged involvement in a transnational criminal operation known as "burglary tourism," which involves South American thieves entering the United States under an alias or the guise of tourism and subsequently targeting affluent neighborhoods to commit residential burglaries, police said.

Anyone with information regarding the burglaries is urged to contact (818) 548-4911.

City News Service contributed to this report.