Burglars from Chile who came to the UK to commit crime have been jailed for seven years.
Jorge Pinto Vallejos and Jamie Duarte Vera, who were jailed during a hearing at Chester Crown Court, arrived in the country in September 2019 and claimed that they had come to Cheshire for a long holiday.
But this was just a convenient excuse and the pair were actually members of an organised crime gang who specifically travelled to the UK to commit high-value burglaries at luxury homes.
During their stay they went on to commit at least five burglaries at homes in Alderley Edge, Prestbury and Wilmslow in December 2019.
The total value of items stolen and damage caused during their crime spree was more than £170,000.
Their downfall came just days after Christmas when Vallejos and Duarte Vera attempted to break in to an address off Withinlee Road in Prestbury.
It was the second time that the pair had targeted the address, having earlier broken into the property on 18 December and stolen around £80,000 worth of valuables including watches, jewellery, luggage and sunglasses.
However, on this occasion, the burglars activated motion sensitive CCTV cameras and an alert message was sent to the owner of the property who was on holiday with his family.
After receiving the message he contacted a neighbour and police were called to the address.
Local officers attended the property – supported by the National Police Air Service. Following a search, Vallejos and Duarte Vera were both located hiding in gardens near to the address.
They were swiftly arrested and an investigation was launched by detectives from Macclesfield CID.
During their enquiries officers established Forensic links with further crime scenes and analysed mobile phones and call data. This linked the men to at least five burglaries in Alderley Edge, Prestbury and Wilmslow.
A rucksack was also recovered on Prestbury Golf Course which had been abandoned by Duarte Vera which contained a number of tools used to force entry into the addresses – which was all captured on the helicopter footage.
Vallejos and Duarte Vera, both of no fixed abode, were subsequently charged.
They appeared at Chester Crown Court on Friday 19 June where they were sentenced to a combined total of seven years in prison.
Vallejos, 27, who pleaded guilty to five counts of burglary and one attempted burglary, was sentenced to 44 months in prison.
His co-accused, 40-year-old Duarte Vera, was jailed for 40 months after admitting three counts of burglary, one attempted burglary and going equipped for theft.
Detective Sergeant Simon Mills, who led the investigation, said: "Vallejos and Duarte Vera are both members of an organised crime gang who came to the UK with the sole purpose of committing crime – this is often referred to as tourism burglary.
"They were carefully planned with the pair specifically targeting high-value addresses and their aim was to steal as many valuable items as possible before fleeing the area, leaving the country and evading justice.
"In these five incidents alone they caused damage and stole property worth more than £170.000. Our enquiries have also established that stolen property was then being sent back oversea to contacts in Chile.
"The impact of their crime spree should not be underestimated. To know that somebody has targeted your home – a place you should feel safe in – broken in and rifled through your property before taking your personal possessions is absolutely sickening.
"Thankfully, in this case, as a result of the CCTV footage, the burglars being swiftly located and the work of a dedicated team of detectives who pieced together the case, Vallejos and Duarte Vera are now behind bars facing the consequences of their actions.
"I hope that this outcome provides some comfort and reassurance to the victims following their ordeal."
This was the first 'tourism burglary' case in Cheshire and, following the successful prosecution, the force is continuing to work closely with a number of other agencies to help deter any other potential offenders coming into Cheshire to commit crime.
Detective Chief Inspector Clare Coleman, Crime Manager at Cheshire Police, added: "Prevention is a key part of what we do and, on the back of this case, we are working closely with agencies including Border Force and Manchester to help identify other potential offenders and stop them from coming into the UK and targeting places like Cheshire.
"As a force we are committed to doing all we can to identify offenders and stop them in their tracks.
"I hope that this case acts as a warning to anyone who is planning on travelling to Cheshire to commit crime – don't make a wasted journey."
Police and Crime Commissioner David Keane added: "The work of organised crime gangs can not only have a devastating impact on the victims involved in the crime but also on the whole community.
"I would like to praise the work of Cheshire Police officers in this case in bringing the perpetrators of these despicable crimes to justice.
"I would also urge anyone living in our communities that may have information in relation to the operation of organised crime gangs to report it to police or anonymously to Crimestoppers. With your help, we can disrupt more of this type of crime and make our communities safer."