FBI Indianapolis
Public Affairs Specialist Chris Bavender
(317) 430-4140
April 5, 2024

FBI Warns of International Organized Theft Groups

INDIANAPOLIS—With warmer weather in sight, many Hoosiers are planning vacation travel. But ahead of packing up the car and heading out for some fun, FBI Indianapolis warns residents to take precautions to avoid falling prey to break-ins by international criminals.

International theft groups are typically comprised of individuals from South American countries who travel to the United States to participate in organized theft rings and are likely responsible for select organized burglaries and thefts in Indiana. These theft groups usually target homes in affluent neighborhoods when the residents are out of town, concentrating on the master or main bedroom and taking high end jewelry, accessories, and cash. Instances of the groups targeting homes in Indiana report a similar method of operation, to include surveillance of their victims to learn their schedules.

Not only have the groups been known to target homes in affluent neighborhoods, they also are likely responsible for select distraction robberies at grocery stores and similar establishments. Methods include surreptitiously removing credit cards from victims’ wallets, or the theft of the entire wallet, resulting in purchases of pre-paid gift cards at commercial retailers.

“This crime is definitely on the FBI’s radar, and we are tracking identified international organized theft groups to intercept them as they move between targets and are working with our law enforcement partners to mitigate the threat,” said FBI Indianapolis Special Agent in Charge Herbert J. Stapleton.

Staying aware is key to avoiding becoming a victim. Tips include:

  • Vary your daily routine
  • Don't post on social media that you're on vacation
  • Utilize a doorbell camera with an alarm system
  • Keep inside lights on with timers
  • Take photos of valuables and keep those items in a safe
  • Don’t leave large amounts of cash in the home

Anyone with information can contact the FBI at 1-800-CALL-FBI or online at tips.fbi.gov.