Wealthy Oakland County neighborhoods are being targeted by an international crime ring, according the the Oakland County Sheriff’s Office.

Wealthy Oakland County neighborhoods are being targeted by an international crime ring, according the the Oakland County Sheriff’s Office.

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Sheriff addresses crime ring focusing on wealthy Oakland County suburbs

By: Mary Genson | C&G Newspapers | Published October 6, 2023


OAKLAND COUNTY — The county’s affluent neighborhoods have been targeted in what is called a transnational crime ring. Organized and trained thieves have been targeting certain areas of the United States and breaking into homes in search of cash, jewelry, high-end clothing, purses and products.

On Sept. 29, Oakland County Sheriff Michael Bouchard shared information and updates on the crime ring at a news conference.

According to Bouchard, these transnational crime groups are made up of individuals from South American countries.

“They are here to exploit a variety of things, and in our situation as relates to the burglaries, it’s high in homes with high net value within those homes,” Bouchard said.

Oakland County is now on their radar; however, they are traveling throughout the United States to carry out their crimes.

“We estimate there are crews and operations all across the country in a pretty substantial number,” Bouchard said.

Bouchard said they are believed to have entered the country in one of two ways, either illegally across the southern border or through the Visa Waiver Program.

He said they purchase fake identification and often overstay their visa and cancel their return date. They also are known to establish residency in the areas they are targeting. They do this through fraudulent housing applications or Airbnb.

Bouchard said that in Oakland County, they typically break in around 5-9 p.m. He added that preferred targets are homes that are isolated and back up to wooded areas, trails and golf courses.

According to Bouchard, Oakland County has seen between eight and 11 related cases over a year.

“Oftentimes, they make their entry via an upstairs balcony or windows, or, oftentimes, in the back. If they are going to do windows, they do windows in the back,” Bouchard said.

Bouchard encouraged residents to invest in their home security and make sure security measures are on and tested. He suggests good quality cameras and layered systems throughout the house.

He also urges residents to secure all of their valuables in a heavy-duty safe that is anchored.

If anyone sees something suspicious happening in their neighborhood, they are encouraged to reach out to law enforcement.

“We’d all like to check out suspicious activity 100 times in case one of those could be something that is valuable and actually something in progress,” Bouchard said. “So don’t feel like you are troubling us. That’s what we do.”