Gotcha! South American Theft Network Fugitive Pegged In $25,000 Dumont Home Burglary, More

A wanted member of a notorious transnational group of thieves was tied by Dumont detectives to the theft of $25,000 in cash during a home break-in two months ago.

Jhan Michael Rodriguez-Fonseca

Jhan Michael Rodriguez-Fonseca

Photo Credit: DPD

Jhan Michael Rodriguez-Fonseca, 26, lives in Jersey City and most recently worked as a food delivery driver, Dumont Police Chief Brian Joyce said.

He really belongs to what’s known as the South American Theft Group network and is tied to other burglaries in the state, the chief said.

He was also wanted by the NYPD and by agents with U.S. Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), he said.

Primarily from Colombia, the members of the theft network ordinarily fly out of Chile in groups to a designated country on 90-day tourist visas – earning them the nickname “crime tourists.”

Some take regular jobs to throw off investigators. Meanwhile, they move from city to city, and area to area seeking jewelry, watches and designer merchandise – all conveniently sized for carrying and then selling – as well as cash.

The burglars fence the goods in New Jersey and elsewhere and send the money home ahead of them. Soon, they’re on another flight to another country.

Federal agents have begun fighting back, schooling law enforcement on what to look for, tracking down those thieves who are hiding in plain sight and then sending them back where they came from.

The Bergen County Sheriff’s Bureau of Criminal Identification helped Detectives Ryan Magnotta and Nicholas La Sala identify Rodriguez-Fonseca in the Dec. 21, 2023 burglary on Hazel Street by lifting a latent fingerprint that matched his, said Joyce, the police chief.

Dumont police charged Rodriguez-Fonseca with burglary, theft and criminal mischief, he said.

Odds are the case doesn’t make it to court in Hackensack, however.

Rodriguez-Fonseca's fingerprints ended up in a national law enforcement data base after Millburn police nabbed him for a burglary earlier this month.

Rodriguez-Fonseca was sent to the Essex County Correctional Facility in Newark.

Soon after, ICE issued a detainer to keep Rodriguez-Fonseca to keep him held there until they could bring him before an immigration judge in Newark. Deportation was more than likely – if it hasn’t already happened.

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