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Michigan county plagued by 'burglary tourism' as foreign crime gangs abuse US visa waiver program

Oakland County Sheriff Michael Bouchard joined "Fox & Friends" to discuss how Chilean nationals are expertly ransacking homes throughout his community.

A Michigan sheriff is sounding the alarm on "burglary tourism" – a recent trend where international organized crime groups enter the U.S. to skillfully rob wealthy suburban homes.

"We believe that there has to be some kind of training camp because they come so well-trained, so equipped, and so knowledgeable about how to move and how to attack a home," Oakland County Sheriff Michael Bouchard told "Fox & Friends" Wednesday.

"They do a lot of pre-op surveillance. They determine as best they can when someone won't be in a home. They go very quickly to the home, they break a window. They go through it, not opening a door or window. They have an electronic jammer."


Bouchard said the gangs, mostly from Chile, are then able to quickly target home safes and small high-end items.

"They're very focused on high-end jewelry, like watches, cash, high-end purses… things that are highly, valuable and disposable. And out they go and they move on. They usually hit a number of homes in our area, and then they move on to another part of the country, and then another crew will come in. And it's been a cycle."

Bouchard urged the State Department to reevaluate Chile's participation in the U.S. Visa Waiver Program, which allows tourists and business travelers to enter America for 90 days or less without having to obtain a visa or go through a thorough vetting process.

"All we're asking is that the federal government either pause or discontinue Chile from that program. Now, that doesn't mean they can't come and visit from Chile. They just have to get a traditional visa with a higher level of scrutiny and background than what happens currently with the BWP," he said, adding that Colombians entering the U.S. through the southern border are also contributing to the crimes.

Similar crimes have been reported in California, New Jersey and New York.

Orange County District Attorney Todd Spitzer has been warning about the issue since last summer, calling the Southern California burglaries "carefully calculated and planned." 

Spitzer filed a lawsuit against the Biden administration for failing to respond to public records requests involving documentation on the issue. He has also called on Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas to use his powers to strike Chile from the program.

The South American nation, which the State Department describes as a regional leader for the rule of law and economic stability, is the only Latin American country on the 41-country list.

Fox News' Michael Ruiz and Bradford Betz contributed to this report.

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