Police: Chilean crew believed to be behind 12 break-ins at high-end Nassau homes

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Police believe the same Chilean crew is behind a dozen burglaries at high-priced Nassau County homes, including four in the past two weeks.

Ron Austin says he and his family were home Thursday night around 7 p.m., but didn't hear or see anyone breaking into their neighbor's home on Seawane Drive in Hewlett Harbor. Nassau police say this home burglary is just the latest in a string of break-ins on both the North and South shores over the last three months.

"We have it down in Seawane, we had one up in Sands Point and we had one in Brookville. And then they go back," says Nassau Police Commissioner Patrick Ryder. "We've been up in the North Shore before, up in the Great Neck area and we've been down in the Woodsburgh area in the Five Towns."

Ryder says he believes these burglaries are all tied to the same ring of thieves who are flying in from Chile on 60-day vacation visas, renting cars, burglarizing homes and then flying out again with their proceeds. As News 12 reported last month, there were several arrests of Chilean nationals tied to other break-ins.

"When they go back, they educate each other on what's going on, they tell them the areas to go," says Ryder. "They're taught: Go into these areas and cover them, there's going to be high value targets there."

The man who lives at the burglarized home on Seawane Drive told News 12 off-camera that he was out of the country on vacation last night. He says surveillance video shows three men wearing hoods and glasses smashing his back door.

Ryder says this Chilean burglary ring is also operating in California and Florida. He says the department is working with the feds to track down suspects.

In the meantime, police are advising residents to keep lights on when not at home, leave a radio on and to inform neighbors of plans to be away.

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