Chilean gang jailed over 14 burglaries in three months
Three members of a Chilean gang have been jailed after admitting a string of burglaries across England and Wales.
Julio Galdamez-Rodriguez, 20, Luis Rojas, 35, and Francisco Montecinos, 32, launched daytime raids in Cardiff, Monmouthshire, West Sussex, Oxfordshire and London, taking items worth £60,000.
Cardiff Crown Court heard 14 incidents took place between April and June 2017.
The three men, who were sentenced to between six and nine years for their respective roles, face deportation.
The court was told they stole jewellery, cash and laptops which in one burglary amounted to £17,000.
But they also left crucial pieces of forensic evidence at the scenes, such as bloodstains or fingerprints, and were sometimes caught on CCTV - making it easier to link the burglaries.
On 27 June, gang members carried out four burglaries in quick succession, targeting large rural addresses in Monmouthshire and Cardiff.
During one of the raids, an 85-year-old woman disturbed the men as they were stealing from her home in Llanrumney.
They were caught in Bristol after being seen fleeing a property in Usk having failed to disable the burglar alarm.
Matthew Roberts, defending Montecinos, said his client had been in the UK for a month and had fallen into financial difficulties.
Curtis Telfer, defending the other two, said Rojas had fallen victim to fraud while on holiday in the UK, but also has a long record in his home country for burglary and had been deported from Spain in 2005.
But Mr Tefler was picked up by the judge when claiming Galdamez-Rodriguez had been "unaware of the seriousness of the crimes" and the laws of this country.
Judge Thomas Crowther QC said: "Oh come on, you're not telling me he didn't know he was committing an offence.
"People invest great emotional significance in such items. Burglary is an offence against people, not property."
Galdamez-Rodriguez was sentenced to nine years for 10 burglaries, Rojas received six years for five burglaries and Montecinos six years for six burglaries.
Det Con Simon Reed, who led the case for Gwent Police, said: "The defendants show no regard for their victims and intended to callously scare and steal from them."