Criminal tourism is on the rise. But just a few years ago, it didn’t even exist. Here’s what you need to know about the international crime wave.
What Is Criminal Tourism?
Criminal tourism is a term coined to describe organized crime performed by groups of international “tourists” who enter the US on tourist visas to rob wealthy neighborhoods.
Criminal tourism has been reported in California for several years now, with at least 20 homes in Huntington Beach reporting these kinds of break-ins in 2022. But the trend is starting to make its way inland, with affluent communities in the Midwest reporting incidents throughout the summer.
Moving to the Midwest
Carmel, Indiana, an affluent suburb of Indianapolis, has seen an influx of criminal tourism in the past few years. In 2021, police investigated just three incidents tied to the phenomenon, while in 2022, there were 10 reported incidents. As of May 2023, there had already been seven similar reported cases.
What They’re Targeting
Criminal tourists are organized and quick, canvassing wealthy neighborhoods and working as a group to steal jewelry, cash, designer purses, and other luxury goods in minutes.
How They Do It
According to NewsNation, groups of criminal tourists will often surveil homes for weeks before striking. They’ve even been known to install cameras at homes or place air tags on vehicles so they can track the homeowner’s schedule to know when they’re least likely to be at home.
What to Look For
Criminal tourists typically rent high-end cars to blend in with the affluent areas they target. They also tend to strike during daylight hours when they know homeowners are at work or out to dinner.
Why They’re Hard to Catch
Typically, criminal tourists have multiple fake IDs and apply for visas through a visa waiver program that allows them to visit the US for tourism or business without obtaining the usual visa. They often either ship stolen goods back home or sell them immediately, making tracking stolen goods very difficult.
What You Can Do
The best way to stop criminal tourism is to be vigilant. Law enforcement officials recommend reporting any suspicious activity around your home, installing a timer for your lights so they come on at the same time every day whether or not you’re at home, and not making it well known when you’re out of town.
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