Police are warning residents about a burglary crew targeting high-end homes in Lake and McHenry counties along with other parts of the Chicago area.
Oakwood Hills Police Chief Raymond Cordell said the theft crew is burglarizing high-end homes, typically located on golf courses, in McHenry County.
Three or four suspects travel around in rented SUVs, usually rented from small or obscure rental companies.
They attempt to break into homes through patio and glass doors and steal expensive jewelry, Cordell said.
They will normally park on a side street and walk to the targeted house.
They have broken into at least one house while it was occupied, Cordell said.
The suspects announced that they were the police and fire department and the residents needed to leave immediately.
The suspects fled the scene when the resident said they were calling the police.
The Lakewood Police Department said they also have had multiple burglaries in their village recently.
One of them occurred around 6:30 p.m. Monday in the 7300 block of Longmoor Drive. Forced entry was made through the rear of the residence.
On the same day, a burglary occurred in the 9500 block of Nicklaus Lane in Lakewood.
The residents returned home to find entry was made through a window in the rear of the home and their belongings were stolen.
Another burglary occurred on Turnberry Trail in Lakewood on January 30.
The Lakewood Police Department said they have “sustained an active approach” to investigating the crimes.
Lakewood police attended a multi-jurisdictional meeting with other law enforcement agencies from throughout the Chicago area.
“The objective of this meeting was to disseminate and share intelligence, specific to a group of individuals known as the South American Theft Crew,” police said.
The crew was suspected primarily of being active in Lake and Kane counties.
The same crew has been involved in burglary cases in other states south of Illinois, police said.
The group has been known to target high-end residences that back up to wooded areas or golf courses.
They use the land behind the residences as a means to monitor residences and also to flee the scene.
Lakewood police do not believe the South American Theft Crew was responsible for the Turnberry Trail burglary. That burglary was possibly part of a “gypsy gang.”
The burglary on Longmoor Drive has “more of an implication to ties with this South American crew,” officials added.
Residents throughout the Chicago area are recommended to have exterior lighting and exterior cameras and also have an alarm system for their homes.
“If you are on vacation, do not give an indication where you are at on Facebook or other social media outlets. These groups are highly organized, and search for these types of messages,” police said.
Most police departments offer a house watch for residents who are away from their homes for an extended period.