Chileans on ‘tourism burglary’ trip jailed after targeting wealthy Cheshire homes

Two Chilean nationals have been jailed after travelling to the UK for “tourism burglary” and stealing £170,000 of personal items from homes, including from the house of a former Manchester United player.

Jorge Pinto Vallejos, 27, was sentenced to three years and eight months, while Jamie Duarte Vera, 40, was given three years and four months for being in a crime group that burgled affluent houses in Cheshire before Christmas.

They broke into several properties in Alderley Edge and Prestbury, making off with diamond bracelets, shotguns, a platinum wedding ring, and a £30,000 Patek Philippe watch.

At one house, the pair opened the family’s Christmas presents and stole £44,000 of goods, while a victim from Alderley Edge said he was left feeling “vulnerable” when £25,000 of jewellery with additional sentimental value was taken.

The four-storey home of Polish footballer Tomasz Kuszczak was targeted twice, with a 100kg safe containing diamond bracelets and watches worth £80,000 removed.

On their second attempt, Vallejos and Vera were caught by motion detectors that the former Manchester United goalkeeper had installed – resulting in their eventual arrest.

Kuszczak said the incident had had a “huge impact” on him and his family, while prosecutor Brett Williamson added: “He now pays for round-the-clock CCTV monitoring.

“His partner feels vulnerable when he is away.”

Cheshire Police said the men, who both came to the UK in October, had made the journey for “tourism burglary” by stealing “as many valuable items as possible before fleeing the area, leaving the country and evading justice”.

A statement from Detective Constable Louise Holman, of the Metropolitan Police, suggested a wider theme of similar incidents as she detailed 300 arrests of Chilean nationals for burglaries up and down the country since 2017.

She said: “These burglaries follow a pattern of targeting affluent areas, mainly in the winter months, where safes would be and the whole safe is stolen.”

Phone records also showed that Vallejos had spoken to others about sending jewellery home.

His defence lawyer, Kay Driver, said the burglar was raised by relatives in a “very poor household” after moving to Chile from Belgium when he was two.

She said the 27-year-old wanted to “send apologies” to the victims and that he understood the damage caused to their “confidence, their wellbeing and society”.

Meanwhile, Vera’s defence, Jemma Gordon, said her client had initially travelled to the UK to make money, but got himself “involved in criminality”.

She said he also wanted to express his apologies and was “disappointed” in his own behaviour.

Both men will be deported after their prison sentences.

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