A transnational theft ring may have been responsible for the daytime armed robbery of a jeweler at the Galleria Dallas shopping mall last month.
In a letter obtained by The Dallas Express, Rebecca Keener, the property manager at the North Dallas Bank & Trust Tower, informed the building’s tenants about the incident.
“On Tuesday, February 28, 2023, a jeweler who was visiting his clients in the building was followed to our property, then followed off property and robbed at the Galleria,” Keener wrote.
She went on to detail how two vehicles, presumably driven by the suspects, parked next to each other in the building’s parking garage. One vehicle then left and parked across the street at a Chili’s Grill & Bar. When the jeweler left the property, both cars followed him to the Galleria.
Senior Corporal Brian E. Martinez of the Dallas Police Department (DPD) informed The Dallas Express that police responded to the scene and learned that “a group of unknown suspects pointed a gun and cut the victim’s leg while taking his property.”
Though robberies in Dallas are actually down by almost 10% year-to-date, overall violent crime has been ticking up the last couple of months due to double-digit spikes in murders, aggravated assaults, and family violence sexual assaults, per a DPD briefing.
Public Affairs Officer Melinda Urbina told The Dallas Express that the robbery could be the work of sophisticated transnational criminal organizations referred to as South American Theft Groups (SATG). She confirmed that the FBI is assisting DPD with the investigation.
“They used to target traveling jewelry and diamond salesmen … in Miami, Houston, New York, LA,” said Urbina, noting that February’s incident is the first she is aware of that occurred in Dallas.
Urbina went on to explain that SATG members enter the country legally on visas and “embed themselves” in communities around the United States, even bringing their children and sending them to school.
“In the past, they were from Colombia, primarily,” she said.
Urbina told The Dallas Express that SATG members began changing their tactics once their modus operandi became more familiar to federal law enforcement. In the last couple of years, these international professional thieves pivoted to burglarizing the homes of jewelry store owners in different parts of the country.
“So, back in 2014, they were really going after the traveling salesmen, but then there was a lot of [investigation] through the FBI. … They start getting pressed by that, right? It starts getting out that this is what they’re doing, so they changed their method and went on to something else,” she said.
The FBI estimates that these organizations have been getting away with stealing tens or hundreds of millions of dollars worth of valuables every year, according to The Washington Post.
“These groups are very well organized and they’re consistently figuring out a way to do business. This is their business, so they’re always going to adapt their business model to what they need to do to get the biggest profit,” Urbina said.
SATG members have also been able to exploit the criminal justice system, plying their trade in cities that have low bail for non-violent property crimes and simply moving on to another city after they get bonded out, The Washington Post reported.
The latest incident at the Galleria Dallas follows a recent push by state lawmakers to reform existing bail laws that some legislators believe are behind the recent spike in violent crimes in Texas, as previously reported in The Dallas Express.
Set bail at $1million dollars.good luck with that! Crime is going to get worse. You got people moving to texas from everywhere. We need more policeman, pay them more money and they will stay.
February’s incident is the first she is aware of that occurred in Dallas……not the first…..murder in Irving just a few years ago. Plenty of these types of thefts it seems.