MIAMI (WSVN) - Police have arrested 10 members of an alleged organized burglary ring in Miami whose victims included a celebrity high-end jeweler.
Miami Police said the group used sophisticated surveillance techniques, equipment and social media to make their steals.
“The way this group worked was very much like seasoned police investigators,” Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle said. “They would stalk and surveil their planned victims before committing the burglaries.”
Investigators said the members would put GPS monitors on the bottom of their victims’ cars, track them for weeks and would rob them when the opportunity presented itself.
Among those arrested on Tuesday include Xandi Garcia, who, police said, was one of the ringleaders. Investigators said Maybel Sanchez, Garcia’s girlfriend, and Mirta Lora, Garcia’s mother, were also involved.
According to investigators, Garcia is one of those responsible for stealing millions of dollars worth of jewelry from Eric the Jeweler, a celebrity jeweler, during Super Bowl weekend. Garcia was arrested the following week after detectives received an anonymous tip. When Garcia was arrested, he allegedly had one of the stolen pieces of jewelry in his pocket.
The group was taken down as a part of an operation investigators are calling Operation Growing Pains.
The entire ring stems from the bust of five marijuana grow houses that, investigators said, all 10 members were involved with.
“That’s what led to this whole ring of burglaries,” Fernandez Rundle said.
Fernandez Rundle said the group would use social media sites, such as Instagram, to find potential targets, and they would look for posts that included expensive jewelry and other high-priced items.
Six burglaries in all would take place, and one of them was captured on surveillance video in October 2019.
Investigators said three other burglaries were also planned, and one of them would have targeted New York Yankees pitcher Aroldis Chapman.
“This group would collect, synthesize and disseminate information on their potential targets,” Fernandez Rundle said.
The state attorney also mentioned that people should be more cautious about what they post online and not to reveal too much about their lives.
“We just need to be smart about it because there’s pictures and cameras and pingings and cell sites,” Fernandez said during a press conference. “There’s technology everywhere that tells people what you’re wearing, who you’re with, where you are, where you live, where you’re going, so you really need to be very, very careful.”
All 10 of the suspects are behind bars at the Turner Guilford Knight Correctional Center in West Miami-Dade awaiting trial.
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