8 Chilean tourists arrested over $1.2m thefts in Sydney

SYDNEY – Australian police have smashed an international crime syndicate accused of stealing $1.2 million in luxury goods from homes.

The five men and three women, all Chilean nationals, were arrested over the past month following an investigation into 80 aggravated break-ins across Sydney during September and October, the New South Wales Police said in a statement.

The NSW Police allege the men and women broke into homes across the city, including in Vaucluse, Rose Bay, Five Dock, and Castle Hill, and stole $1.2 million worth of jewellery and luxury items, and cash. It’s also alleged they stole luxury items from designer stores across Sydney.

The illicit goods were allegedly posted back to Chile or converted into cash before being transferred overseas. Investigators have been working with Chilean authorities to seize packages believed to contain the stolen items.

Some of those arrested also faces charges of making false statements to immigration officials and dealing with the proceeds of crime.

Authorities have also identified more than 30 international money transfers worth $75,000 sent to unknown recipients in Santiago de Chile.

“This has been a sophisticated and meticulous investigation; spanning not just across Australia but across the Pacific Ocean,” Detective Superintendent Daniel Doherty said.

One of the individuals includes 19-year-old Chilean Anastassia Saavedra Urzua, received a 30-day prison sentence after pleading guilty in Melbourne Magistrates Court just before Christmas for theft, dealing with the proceeds of crime and making false declarations to immigration authorities.

She is expected to be extradited to NSW to potentially face charges from Strike Force Merengue.

Saavedra Urzua could also be facing extradition to the United States after she was accused of being part of a group of Chileans who stole a trove of lingerie from a Victoria’s Secret outlet in a Californian mall.

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