Foreign jewel thieves get away with a trove

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Foreign jewel thieves get away with a trove

A gang of five visiting South American thieves robbed a local traveling salesman of 45 million won ($39,370) worth of jewelry in Busan.

Three men in the gang were arrested in Itaewon, but their two female accomplices got away with the loot.

Local police in Beomcheon-dong, Busanjin District said Monday that the gang of thieves from Argentina and Colombia entered the country on tourist visas between June 22 to July 12.

Somehow, they were made aware of a Korean jewelry salesman planning a business trip from Seoul to Busan, presumably from a link to a Korean crime syndicate.

The five foreigners rented a car in Seoul July 16 and followed the car of a Korean salesman, a 38-year-old man surnamed Hong. He was traveling with two large suitcases filled with 18-karat necklaces and earrings, and he drove to a motel in Busan.

The South Americans checked in at the same motel, and kept an eye on Hong. Police checked the motel’s CCTV footage later. When Hong went out to dinner after 7 p.m., three of the foreigners used a tool to pick the lock of his motel room and grabbed 185 pieces of jewelry. All five took off in the rented car.

When Hong returned to his room, he discovered the burglary and reported it to police.

The police said the foreigners were professionals. But three male suspects were caught when their rental car was spotted in Itaewon in central Seoul. The two females disappeared with the jewelry.


By Sarah Kim [sarahkim@joongang.co.kr]

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