Metro Phoenix riddled by thefts linked to South American organized crime groups

Feb 7, 2024, 2:15 PM

Blurry screenshot security camera footage showing burglars leaving a Scottsdale residence in Novemb...

This is a screenshot of security camera footage showing burglars leaving a Scottsdale residence in November 2024. (Scottsdale Police Department)

(Scottsdale Police Department)

PHOENIX – Law enforcement agencies across metro Phoenix are working together to combat a recent wave of thefts linked to South American organized crime groups.

Scottsdale Police Chief Jeff Walther told KTAR News 92.3 FM’s The Mike Broomhead Show on Wednesday that multiple police departments and the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office have been sharing intelligence and are talking about putting together a task force dedicated to the problem.

The Phoenix Police Department issued a media advisory on Tuesday alerting the public to burglaries committed since December 2023 related to organizations known as “South American Theft Groups.”

Local law enforcement officials are encouraging the community to report suspicious activity and thefts so they can collect evidence and share it with colleagues in other cities.

Walther said the crime wave, which has impacted Phoenix, Scottsdale and multiple other suburbs on both sides of the Valley, is part of a national trend.

What homes are being targeted in string of thefts across Valley?

Walther said residents of homes located next to washes, open desert areas and golf courses should especially be on high alert.

“Those are the ones that are currently being hit around the Valley around the state, those that have easier or quieter ingress and egress out of those locations,” he said.

Theft-prevention tips include keeping doors and windows locked, installing security cameras and motion-activated lighting, and keeping vegetation trimmed to eliminate places where intruders could hide.

Phoenix PD and Walther both noted that the suspects in what are believed to be related cases have been targeting small items with large cash values and credit cards.

“This is multiple groups that are here in the United States that are taking all, typically, the same products or the same materials out of these homes … It’s cash, it’s jewelry, it’s high-end purses, it’s precious metals and things like that,” Walther said.

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Metro Phoenix riddled by thefts linked to South American organized crime groups