RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- A series of high-end heists hitting some of most upscale neighborhoods of North Raleigh may be part of a bigger operation with cells across the country, according to information uncovered by the ABC11 I-Team
Investigator J. Cardona with Wake County Sheriff's Office said after the department initially thought reports of high end burglaries targeting luxury homes in North Raleigh was a local job.
But after investigating the months-long burglaries, the department now believes the crime spree is part of bigger operation.
The I-Team learned that the Wake County Sheriff's Office is now working with the FBI because similar crimes with similar modus operandi have been reported across the country.
Felix Contreras, Emilion Palma-Godoy, Felipe Jara, and Rudeger Garrido Aravena were arrested last month in a string of burglaries between February and December of 2023. Their court cases have been continued until May.
"It created the opportunity for us to gather some intel which kind of put us behind the bad guys wall and once we got behind the wall it opened up a lot for us," Cardona said.
Investigators said the suspects had the same mode of operation, coming up from Florida and staying in local Airbnb's to case their homes and carry out their heist. -- taking jewelry, watches, silver and gold bars that ,in one case, was valued at $1 million.
Investigators now believe similar cases are happening across the country and that the suspects may be part of a larger crime organization out of South America.
Meanwhile, investigators are encouraging people with luxury items to beef up their cameras and security.
"People want the silent alarm systems because they think it's going to help, but no, you need very audible alarm systems which are much better to scare these bad guys away," Cardona said.