RIVERSIDE, Calif. (CNS) -- Riverside police Thursday warned residents that a burglary ring active since the start of the year is continuing to target homes throughout the city, asking anyone with information about the suspects to come forward.
"Our detectives have been diligently working to solve these cases,'' police Capt. Chris Wagner said. "We want to encourage residents to keep looking out for one another by reporting anything suspicious they see in their neighborhoods.''
According to investigators, since January, groups of men and women, described only as South Americans have been breaking into residences in the Alessandro Heights, Hawarden Hills and Mission Grove neighborhoods.
"This group is a criminal organization that has been operating throughout the United States to commit home burglaries and are suspected of 17 in our city this year,'' police spokesman Ryan Railsback said.
He said the ring works in groups of three to six at a time, setting their sights on houses that are adjacent to vacant lots, arroyos and greenbelts.
"Most times, they will enter the property from the rear or backyard while one or two suspects act as lookouts from getaway vehicles parked along the street,'' the police spokesman said. "They enter the home by smashing a sliding or glass door, even climbing onto a second floor balcony during some instances.''
The burglars consistently wear face coverings and heavy attire, carrying backpacks and flashlights. Investigators did not say whether any of them have been armed during the break-ins.
"Most of the reported burglaries have occurred in the nighttime hours, between 6 p.m. and midnight, often on the weekends while homeowners are away,'' Railsback said. They have also been known to surveil target homes beforehand.''
The burglars alternately use SUVs, minivans and expensive automobiles as getaway vehicles.
Anyone with information that can aid in the investigation was asked to contact detectives at 951-353-7953, or RPDTips@riversideCA.gov.
In the meantime, police advised homeowners to take the following precautions:
- Make residences appear occupied, even when no one is home
- Ensure all doors, gates and windows are consistently locked
- Do not post messages about being away from home on social media
- Advise trusted neighbors when away
- Consider installing a burglar alarm system and securitysurveillance cameras
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