A five-member Colombian gang which carried out a series of burglaries at posh south Bengaluru homes since their arrival in the city in June have been arrested, police said Tuesday. Some gang members were involved in robberies in the city in 2010 and 2016, Bengaluru police commissioner T Suneel Kumar said.
Among the houses the gang burgled was the residence of former Karnataka chief secretary Kaushik Mukherjee, said police.
Police said the arrested persons include a woman, girlfriend of one of the suspects, who surveyed houses and rang doorbells to ascertain if a house is empty or not.
The arrested have been identified as Jose Eduardo Arivalo Burbano, 40, Gustavo Adolpho Jaramillo Giraldo, 47, Yair Alberto Sanchez, 45, Eduardo Alexis Garcia Peramo, 38, and Kimberly Guiterrez, 30, girlfriend of Peramo.
The five travelled to India on tourist visas and one group arrived on May 28 in Delhi and the second group in Mumbai from Germany and Nepal, respectively.
They are alleged to have been involved in five burglaries and two attempted burglaries in Bengaluru since the first week of June. Police have recovered stolen items worth Rs 80 lakh, including expensive watches from the home of the former chief secretary.
Police said they got on the gang’s trail after CCTV cameras at a few homes where they attempted burglaries captured their images. The police began their hunt by looking up hotels and found that three gang members had booked themselves into a villa through Airbnb. Two more members had booked themselves into a service apartment in central Bengaluru.
According to police, after arriving in India, the gang bought cars on Olx and used Google maps to go around identifying homes they could target. The gang used only radio sets at crime scenes, police commissioner Suneel Kumar said.
“’Two gang members Jose Eduardo and Gustavo Giraldo burgled a home in Bengaluru in 2016 and managed to get away. This seems to have brought them back again,” Suneel Kumar said.
In 2016, unidentified persons burgled an MLA’s home in Sadashivanagar. Eduardo and Giraldo were involved in the offence, police said. They have also admitted to involvement in a Rs 1.2- crore jewellery heist at Hotel Pride in 2010, the police commissioner said.
In the 2010 case, four South Americans, including three Colombians, were arrested in Goa by Bengaluru police. The four later jumped bail and fled the country. Two of the accused are suspected to have used fake passports to enter India again. “Two of them admitted to have been involved in the 2010 robbery. We are verifying this,” Suneel Kumar said.
Probe has revealed that the gang members have committed several crimes in the past in South America, the US and Mexico.