- The suspects would watch those coming out of the Patel store or the jewelry store or getting their nails done, and follow them to their residence.
Police in Long Island’s Nassau County in New York have arrested four members of an alleged Colombian burglary ring accused of targeting Indian Americans. The group reportedly committed “up to 30 heists” in Hicksville and surrounding areas, as reported by Newsday.
Citing police, CBS 2 reported on Oct, 12 that “the suspects used lookouts and surveillance to follow unsuspecting victims,” and “wore vests and posed as utility workers in Hicksville.” Nassau Police Commissioner Patrick Ryder told local media outlets that the suspects “would watch those coming out of the Patel store or the jewelry store or getting their nails done, and follow them to their residence. Police say there are “20-30 recent open cases in this area,” with similar descriptions that could be linked to the South American gang.
The suspects were taken into custody and charged on Oct. 10, after they “observed them in the process of burglarizing a residence on South Street in Hicksville,” a report in Newsday said, quoting Ryder. He said detectives saw “the burglars broke a glass rear sliding door, fleeing when a woman screamed.” They then saw “two men jump into a getaway car driven by a fourth suspect.”
Neighbor Anita Ramolia spoke to Newsday about witnessing the police activity as she was walking her dog. “It’s scary. I mean, I’m home and it’s constantly on my mind.”
Police arrested the first suspect, Daniel Esteban Jimenez-Carrillo, 30, of South Ozone Park, then stopped a black 2020 Hyundai allegedly used as the getaway car, the Newsday report said. Also arrested were Gleason Jhoan Hernandez-Gomez, 33, of College Point; and Justin Mora-Soto, 20, and Brayan Alexis Ortiz-Ramos, 20, both of South Ozone Park. All were charged with second-degree attempted burglary and fourth-degree conspiracy and were scheduled for arraignment in First District Court in Hempstead.
Media reports say that the four suspects are undocumented and entered illegally through borders in Texas, Arizona, and California. They did not make bail and are being held until their next court date.
The Long Island arrest is the latest in what seems like a targeted focus by several criminals and gangs on the Indian American and South Asian American communities.
Earlier this month, Lathan Johnson, 37, of Palo Alto, California, was charged with robbery and hate crimes for targeting, attacking and robbing 14 Indian American women. In a press release, Santa Clara County District Attorney’s Office said Johnson ripped necklaces from the necks of the victims and sped away in a car. In several of the robberies, he injured the women, who ranged in age from 50-73. The estimated worth of all the stolen necklaces is about $35,000, the DA’s office said.
This June, the Federal Bureau of Investigation warned the Asian American community in New Jersey of facing an increased risk of being burglarized.
In May, in a “smash-and-grab” robbery, armed thieves followed an employee through the front door of Virani Jewelers on Oak Tree Road in Iselin, New Jersey, just before closing, to loot the high-end jewelry store. News reports at the time said the “seven to nine gloved robbers, some brandishing handguns,” were caught on a store security camera.
In May 2021, five New Jersey men and three from Pennsylvania were arrested and charged with “a massive burglary ring that targeted families of Asian descent,” nj.com reported at the time. They were accused of more than 50 homes in several states over a more than two-year span. The group targeted business owners, typically of Asian family-owned restaurants, according to a criminal complaint, which said about $500,000 in cash was stolen in one burglary alone.