South American Theft Group strikes again in Middle Tennessee

South American Theft Group strikes again in Middle Tennessee

NOLENSVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — The Nolensville Police Department issued a warning after members of the South American Theft Group (SATG) reportedly broke into upscale homes and got away with hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash and jewelry.

The incident happened on Wednesday, May 22. According to investigators, the thieves were wearing work vests to help them disguise their identities, per usual.

Surveillance footage shows the suspects’ getaway car — which may be a gold Honda Odyssey minivan — arriving at the scene. Then, two men exited a house, which authorities said the suspects had burglarized.

As the men walked to the van, you can see their reflective orange vests, as if they were in the neighborhood to do work or deliver packages.

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“They’re well-known as the South American Theft Group. They’re targeting business owners who are known to keep cash hoards, jewelry, and designer handbags inside their homes,” explained Sgt. Josh Combs with the Nolensville Police Department.

According to police, these calculating thieves pick their victims carefully, often observing their routines before breaking into their homes.

In the Nolensville case, the suspects got in and found a large safe in a closet. Since they brought cutting tools with them, the thieves allegedly opened the safe and stole more than $400,000 in cash and family jewelry.

Combs told News 2 the suspects picked this house on purpose: “Through online, they’re able to determine business owners, knowing that they historically do not keep money in the bank. They keep it inside the home, like in this instance, in a safe.”

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Researchers said the SATG works in small cells. Members of the group come from South American countries, usually on Visas, and enter states like New York and New Jersey before targeting cities like Miami and Atlanta.

A similar group reportedly struck in Brentwood more than two months ago. Video from that case shows one of the thieves was wearing a road worker’s reflective vest, the second was dressed like an Amazon delivery person, and the third was wearing a big backpack and a black balaclava as they carried a huge safe to their getaway car.

“They use very similar practices that appear to be taught, from one group to the next, and one of those practices is using disguises, entering the rear of a residence,” Brentwood Assistant Police Chief Jim Colvin told News 2 at the time. “Sometimes they use Wi-Fi jammers to interrupt the signal at a residence so that we don’t have camera footage. “They use vehicles that are hard to trace, they don’t have license plates that are registered to vehicles, and their identity is unknown to a lot of people.”

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“They’re absolutely well-organized; “They do their intelligence before they come to whatever community across the US that they’re going to know who they’re going to hit, they know when they need to hit and what they’re exactly going after,” Combs added.

According to Nolensville investigators, the same group that broke into the safe and stole more than $400,000 also broke into another home nearby and stole $2,500.

If you have any information about either of these thefts, you are asked to call the Nolensville Police Department at 615-776-3640.

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