HEWLETT HARBOR, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) – Police say an international burglary ring is targeting homes on Long Island, and police are warning homeowners to remain vigilant.
Police are still on the search for those responsible for breaking into and robbing a home in Hewlett Harbor.
The family did not want to go on camera but told CBS2’s John Dias they were not home but on vacation in Italy, which they had to cut short when they got the call from their alarm company.
A Nassau County crime scene unit was hard at work Thursday night investigating the burglary at the home on Seawane Drive.
“I’m nervous,” said neighbor Ron Austin. “Because if they break into the house next door, then they can break into any other house.”
Austin and his family moved in next door six months ago. The homes sit right behind the Seawane Country Club where there is minimal lighting, which is where how police think the suspects got in.
“They came in from the rear of the property here, probably jumped the fence and came through the back door,” said Ron Austin.
Austin’s neighbors have their back door boarded up now.
While his family is still trying to wrap their heads around the crime, their neighbors weren’t home, but they were.
“No one had a clue. No one heard anything. No one saw anything. These people knew they were not home, so how long were they watching their house for?” said Emily Austin.
The homeowner says the thieves got away with a safe full of jewelry and family heirlooms. The Nassau County police commissioner says it was done by an organized crew out of Chile.
“They’re coming under tourist visas,” said Nassau County Police Commissioner Patrick J. Ryder. “They fly them in here, they stay for a two-week period, they commit havoc in our communities, and then they get back on plane and they fly back to Chile.”
In January, three people were arrested in connection to numerous home burglaries in Nassau County. Police say the new suspects are part of the same burglary organization.
“When they go back, they educate each other on what’s going on,” said Ryder. “They tell them the areas to go.”
The commissioner says the group targets higher-end homes on both the north and south shores. Over the last few weeks, they’re believed to have hit homes in Sands Point, Brookville, Great Neck and Woodsburgh.
Homeowners are warned to keep lights on when away and install doorbells that have cameras on them.
“They’re watching you in your community, so you need to be watching them,” said Ryder.
Many hope the police do more.
“They should step up their vigilance in the area to patrol areas and look for these people,” said John Lopianco of Woodmere.
Police believe the burglary gang also operates in Florida and California, so police on Long Island are working with federal partners to catch them.