Police Warn of Expanding “Burglary Tourism” Using Hidden Cameras in U.S.

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Law enforcement officials are alerting people nationwide to be cautious of “burglary tourism,” which has predominantly been a concern in southern California but is reportedly spreading.

Officials advise residents to watch for signs indicating they may be targets of theft.

In one incident in Calabasas, California, a resident discovered a camouflaged camera and battery pack hidden in a front yard planter.

This case is among several in southern California where hidden cameras, camouflaged with fake greenery, have been found strategically placed in bushes or flower boxes.

In some instances, criminals have used livestreams to monitor when residents leave their homes, especially in affluent neighborhoods, timing their break-ins accordingly.

The Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department reports that South American theft groups, particularly individuals from Chile or Colombia who enter the U.S. on limited tourist visas, are responsible for these activities.

Previously, burglary tourists would surveil homes by hiding nearby and then disabling security systems. However, these thieves have now incorporated advanced technology, such as hidden cameras disguised as seemingly innocuous objects like fake rocks.

One resident realized his home was being watched after his neighbor across the street discovered a suspicious fake rock.

“I was scared, my wife was scared, I was crying,” said James Dimapasok. “There was a camera that was covered in clay that looked like a rock. So it was very precise. It was on a power bank, so it was like a cordless camera.”

Lt. Dustin Carr from the Malibu-Lost Hills Sheriff’s Station noted that this aligns with the burglars’ usual methods.

“This kind of matches their modus operanda of what they’ve been doing in so far as burglaries around our area, using cameras,” he said. “Obviously, this is a new device that we’ve discovered. We’re going to have to be a lot more vigilant looking for these.”

Burglary tourism is also affecting affluent neighborhoods in other states, including Arizona, Indiana, Maryland, North Carolina, and New York.

With the advent of camouflaged cameras, law enforcement is urging residents everywhere to inspect their properties and report any suspicious activities in their neighborhoods.

Recently, police in Glendale, California, arrested four Colombian nationals for series of burglaries. The arrests followed a tip-off from observing a car driving around a neighborhood at night with no headlights on.

Given these arrests and the new warning, criminals may develop even more sophisticated tactics to avoid detection, making it crucial for residents to stay vigilant about their surroundings.

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