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4 members of international "burglary tourism" ring arrested in Glendale

Burglary tourism suspect arrested by Glendale police
Burglary tourism suspect arrested by Glendale police 01:18

Police have arrested four members of an alleged international ring of "burglary tourism" following a traffic stop in Glendale on Monday. 

The recording device and battery pack recovered by police.  Glendale Police Department

The men, all four Colombian nationals, were arrested at around 10:30 p.m. after police spotted a car that was being driven without the headlights on near the intersection of Emerald Isle Drive and Kirkham Drive, according to a statement from the Glendale Police Department. 

Upon searching the car, the officers located a "video surveillance device with a battery pack charging system camouflaged with leaves," the statement said. 

"This evidence, combined with the finding of freshly disturbed dirt in a planter in the cul-de-sac, led Glendale detectives to believe that the suspects had strategically placed the camera in the planter," the statement continued. "This method allowed them to creat e a sophisticated method to gain a view of residences and known when homeowners would leave."

They also located several jewelry boxes and a construction hardhat and a vest, items that are traditionally used as a ruse to approach homes without raising suspicion, police said. 

Detectives identified the suspects as Jose Antonio Velasquez, 28, Edison Arley Pinzon Fandino, 27, Luis Carlos Moreno, 29 and Bryan Martinez-Vargas, 28. They say that Vargas had already been arrested on April 30 after a short pursuit in Glendale. 

Bryan Martinez-Vargas (left), Jose Antonio Velasquez (second from left), Edison Arley Pinzon Fandino (second from right), Luis Carlos Moreno (right). Glendale Police Department

In that instance, officers responded to the 4300 block of Boston Avenue at around 3:30 p.m. after receiving reports of a residential burglary in progress. 

Responding officers witnessed Vargas and 45-year-old William Guanume leaving the area in a gray Toyota and initiated pursuit.

"While fleeing from officers, the suspects began discarding evidence from their car," the police statement said. 

The chase came to an end eventually after the suspects exited the 134 Freeway on Figueroa Street and crashed into the hillside after failing to negotiate the turn. Both were arrested. 

"The subsequent investigation found the discarded items were indeed stolen from the targeted residence. Notably, officers recovered a WiFi signal jammer, still on and operating," the statement said. "Signal-blocking devices allow individuals to unlawfully enter homes undetected. This technology disrupts home WiFi systems, cutting the feed of traditional home security systems and cameras, and rendering them ineffective in alerting homeowners or law enforcement to the presence of intruders."

Both Guanume and Vargas were being investigated for their alleged involvement in a so-called transnational criminal operation known as "burglary tourism," which involves South American nationals entering the United States under the guise of tourism before targeting affluent neighborhoods to commit burglary, police said. 

The evidence found in the arrests is similar to several reports from other cities in Southern California, including Chino Hills and Temecula, where hidden recording devices were located in the front yard of homes. 

Anyone with further information is asked to contact investigators at (818) 548-4911. 

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