Police nab burglars who went after the wealthy

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Police nab burglars who went after the wealthy



A group of burglars targeting homes with wealthy residents in Itaewon and Cheongun-dong, central Seoul, has been caught, the police revealed on Tuesday.

Suseo Police stated that four individuals, including the ringleader Jang, 58, were detained for breaking into and stealing valuables from residences, and police also booked a female surnamed Choi, 42, for trafficking stolen goods.

However, some of these well-to-do victims did not report the thefts to the police. One residence had more than 100 million won ($88,800) in goods stolen in March, but the owner remained silent until recently.

In August, police were notified that thieves were targeting upper-class residences and began their investigation.

According to the police, on March 15, Jang and his accomplices broke into a posh three-story private residence in Itaewon belonging to the owner of a cable network company. They spent four days prior to the burglary watching the house, changing cars frequently so that CCTV did not capture the same car lingering in the neighborhood for too long. The burglars learned that the house had alarms but that the system was turned off during daytime, so they carried out their plan in broad daylight.

The thieves scaled a wall on the property at 10 a.m. and used a rope to tie up homemaker Lee, 46, her two children and two housekeepers after threatening them with a weapon. Then, Jang took Lee and made her open a safe and hand over valuables worth about 100 million won, including 1 kilogram of gold worth 50 million won and 30 million won in cash. The burglars also stole a late Joseon Dynasty porcelain vase valued at approximately 3 billion won. Jang is also accused of organizing the theft of 10 billion won worth of valuables that were stolen in 2002 from the private residence of Kim Young-wan, 58, who is currently being investigated for the transfer of Hyundai Group funds to North Korea.

In July, Jang allegedly stole some 10 million won in valuables and 2 million won in cash from a 73-year-old resident of Cheongun-dong. Jang told the police, “We target the rich because they have plentiful cash and often do not contact the police.”

The looted Itaewon house’s owner initially claimed he had never been robbed, but after the police showed the confiscated stolen goods to the victims, the owner’s wife made a statement.

By Lee Jeong-bong, Cho Hye-kyung [sarahkim@joongang.co.kr]
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