MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Miami-Dade authorities have broken up an alleged high-tech theft ring in what they called “Operation Growing Pains.”
Authorities said the theft ring includes 10 people. Prosecutors also said the ring included the ring leader’s mother and girlfriend.
They discovered it all after one person was arrested for trafficking marijuana from grow houses and that suspect’s two cell phones showed an operation similar to a movie.
“They would stalk and surveil their planned victims before committing the burglaries. Sometimes preparing weeks in advance before they would strike,” Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle.
The state attorney says the ring’s list included targeting a New York Yankees relief pitcher, who was almost a victim.
“They also felt very arrogant, very bold, and brash about what they were doing. They felt, that what appears from these photographs, they were unstoppable,” the chief prosecutor said.
The crimes date back to, at least 2018. The state attorney says they tracked victims through open pages on social media.
They looked at pricey jewelry and their locations.
At times, they’re accused of going as far as placing a tracking device on a victim’s car.
Prosecutors say suspects recorded video of victims’ homes and even followed them.
It may sound like undercover work because it’s similar to what detectives did to track down suspects.
“They were using it to find the victims and we were using it against them to find them,” the state attorney said.
Earlier this month, accused ring leader Xandi Garcia was charged in connection to breaking into and stealing jewelry from a Miami Beach hotel room during super bowl weekend. It’s where a celebrity jeweler was staying.
Also, you may remember a picture of a man wearing a black hoodie with his face covered during a theft last October in Miami-Dade.
Investigators say the suspect, who was involved in this ring, posted a picture on his social media stating “no face, no crime.”
The state attorney said he thought he could get away by posting the picture.
“One of our lessons is to be very mindful when you’re doing that. There are bad guys out there waiting for you,” she said.
The state attorney says eight of the ten suspects are facing racketeering charges.
Prosecutors say they also found evidence the suspects wanted this operation to grow.