South American Theft Groups (SATGs) have been categorized by the FBI as a trans-national criminal network. They are bands of thieves consisting of both male and female adults who travel the globe conducting various criminal theft activities. While most are from Colombia, other identified members have originated from Peru, Chile, Venezuela, Mexico and other areas. SATGs have existed for decades. Many law enforcement officers (LEOs) believe the groups started as pickpockets after being professionally trained at the School of Seven Bells, or so legend has it. The criminal activities have expanded to general distraction thefts (creating a distraction to rob victims), lotto flim-flam (passing forged winning tickets), retail boosting (using special bags to default security devices in stores), bank surveillance (following bank customers who have withdrawn large amounts of cash and inconspicuously cutting the right, rear tire of the victim's vehicle to render the tire flat), store surveillance (following customers who have purchased large ticket items), and armed robberies of jewelers. Members of the groups are interchangeable, however many specialize in one area. They use aliases, are able to obtain fraudulent identity documents and are highly mobile; they are able to travel anywhere at any time. They speak Spanish, often in code, and communicate via prepaid cellular phone, walkie-talkies, Nextels, or hand signals. Most are in the United States illegally and have extensive criminal histories. Some have even been previously deported. They will often claim being from Puerto Rico or Mexico. They utilize rental vehicles (often SUVs) via a fraudulent or stolen credit card, or late model used vehicles Under a fraud identity with a paper license tag. .
Related categories 1
Art Thieves Nail California Galleries
SFGate.com reprint of a San Francisco Chronicle article regarding art theft in that area suspected of being conducted by organized theft groups.
Asian Salespersons Targeted in California
The Jewelers’ Security Alliance has issued a warning for Asian jewelry salespersons doing business in California. It appears they are being targeted by South American theft gangs.
The Best Reviews: The Color of Death
Book review on a novel about the jewel trade and South American Theft Group involvement.
California 2004 Crime Report
California Department of Justice Annual Report to the Legislature. Report contains specific information on organized retail theft groups under "Other Organized Crimes." [PDF]
FBI Creates Task Force in Southeast
A JCK Magazine article on how FBI task force to combat South American jewelry theft gangs in the southeastern United States has been established in Miami.
Federal Bureau of Investigation - Press Room - Headline Archives
FBI press release providing in depth information about the South American Theft Groups and links to their respective web pages.
Gem Fingerprinting Technique Designed to Foil Thieves
Article discussing the infrared technology to mark gems making them identifiable.
Gemstone Forecaster Crime Reports
Information regarding criminal links between the Chicago Police Department and the South American Theft Groups, as well as the arrest of many South American Theft Group members in Los Angeles. Reports are found under "Gem Tidbits."
International Jewel Thieves and the F.B.I.
Article outlining the SATG with an interview of an F.B.I. agent.
JSA Issues Warning for Traveling Salespersons in Charlotte
The Jewelers Security Alliance has issued a warning for traveling salespersons doing business in Charlotte, N.C.
JSA Issues Warning of Increased Burglary Activity in Texas
The Jewelers' Security Alliance has issued a burglary warning to jewelers in Texas. The organization says it has received 21 reports of burglaries or attempted burglaries in the state since Jan. 1, "which is over twice as many as occurred during that same time period in each of the last several years."
PR Newswire article regarding thieves from various South American Countries and their impact on the retail industry. (Scroll down to "Emporium").
South American Theft Group Intelligence Network
Non-profit organization focused on increased awareness of the SATG as well as training on prevention, response, investigation, and prosecution. Collaborates with law enforcement for intelligence sharing.
The South American Theft Groups: An Overview of a Transnational Criminal Network and Strategies for Field Enforcement -- Caputo 11 (3): 271 -- Police Quarterly
Police Quarterly article (abstract) overviewing the SATG from a historical perspective, current activities and recommendations to enforcement.
Stolen Jewelry Tracking System
An additional website sponsored by the Jeweler's Security Alliance where identification of stolen jewelry may be listed or recovered jewelry suspected of being stolen may be displayed for recovery. Utilized by SATG Taskforces.
Theft Suspects Arrested; 1 Found Hiding in Creek
Broomfield, Colorado article briefly describing capture of three SATG members linked to tens of thousands of dollars worth of recent robberies.
Violent Jewelry Thieves Prowl South Florida
A comprehensive Miami New Times article addressing the SATG, their tactics and escalation in their violent attacks on jewelers. (August 28, 2008)
Total Losses from Jewelry-Related Crime in the U.S. Down 12%
Article from Israeli publication citing figures from the Jewelers Security Alliance with regard to jewelry crimes (April 17, 2008)
Interpol Arrests Jewel Thief Fugitive in Costa Rica
A Colombian man, a known member of the South American Theft Groups, was arrested in September 2005 and faces extradition to France where he is wanted in connection with several robberies. (September 08, 2005)
Jewelry Trade Under Seige
San Francisco Business Times article on South American Theft Groups, their modus operandi, and an interview with Los Angeles Police Detective Mike Woodings who leads a taskforce and is considered a top authority. (May 19, 2000)
Tales From the Cops - San Francisco, Miami, New York City
Big-city cops see tourists get scammed everyday. Here's their advice on how not to be a chump (November 01, 1999)
Orange County Joins L.A. Crime Fighting Unit
Article published by the Professional Jeweler Magazine regarding the coordination between police forces in their fight against the South American Theft Groups. (July 28, 1999)
Last update:July 23, 2016 at 12:05:38 UTC