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Burglary Ring Targets Homeowners, Swiping $4 Million in Jewels Over 6 Years

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Police in Massachusetts recently broke up a “sophisticated” burglary ring that stole jewelry worth over $4 million from homes in 25 communities in the state over the past six years. According to the Massachusetts State Police Division of Homeland Security, the criminals allegedly targeted households they believed would have more jewelry, ABC News reported on April 27.

Four individuals were arrested in connection with the thefts, which included diamonds and gems worth $75,000 each, gold bracelets, necklaces, and more, along with full safes weighing hundreds of pounds. The burglars specifically targeted victims based on certain ethnicities, and the suspects also allegedly collected information about homeowners’ whereabouts to ensure they were not at home when the thefts occurred, and they used Wi-Fi jammers and other tactics to avoid alarms and to conceal themselves, ABC News reported.

“We have been hearing about very well-trained, sophisticated rings targeting high-end homes,” said Danielle Alessandrini, Associate Vice President, Underwriting Director, Personal Insurance, Burns & Wilcox, Farmington Hills, Michigan. “It is happening everywhere.”


We have been hearing about very well-trained, sophisticated rings targeting high-end homes. It is happening everywhere.

The news should be “eye-opening” for homeowners, many of whom do not have adequate insurance coverage for their jewelry and other high-value items, said Sylvia Ornelas, Associate Vice President, Director, Personal Insurance, Burns & Wilcox, Los Angeles, California. These items often exceed the limits of a standard Homeowners Insurance policy and require a standalone Personal Articles Floater.

“Anyone who has anything of value should consider a standalone policy to protect those items,” she said. “If you really want to take care of your collections, you want to protect against all kinds of perils, which is what a standalone policy can cover.”

‘Professional’ criminals targeting high-end homes

According to FBI data, burglaries in the U.S. steadily declined between 2012 and 2021 but increased in 2022 to a total of 847,522 burglaries, Forbes reported. Similar trends have been observed in Canada, where burglaries mainly declined between 2001 and 2021 before rising in 2022 to a total of 132,897 burglaries that year, according to Statista.


If you really want to take care of your collections, you want to protect against all kinds of perils, which is what a standalone Personal Articles Floater can cover.

Some of these are being committed by “professional” criminals, with organized crime rings linked to a number of home burglaries in Irvine, California, in recent weeks. According to a March report from NBC4 News, a total of 34 burglaries took place in Irvine over a span of 35 days, 20% of which police said were likely the work of professional burglary rings. In Michigan, police said a recent string of home burglaries in Bloomfield Township and Northville Township appeared to be committed by a network of Chilean gangs and primarily targeted Asian Americans, the Detroit News reported April 16. In February, police in Oklahoma City had requested warrants after a string of burglaries that were possibly connected to a Chilean crime ring that was targeting homes across multiple states, KFOR reported.

Homeowners may not realize the extent to which burglars target victims in advance, Ornelas said. “They are getting very savvy, these burglars,” she said. Homeowners should also know that unbolted safes, which have been taken from homes in recent incidents, are not sufficient. “Just because you have a safe that weighs a couple hundred pounds does not mean two individuals cannot pick it up and take it,” she said.

Many of the criminals involved in today’s burglaries are “highly trained,” Alessandrini said. The trend reinforces the need for anyone with high-value items to carry a Personal Articles Floater, which is an insurance policy designed to provide broader coverage for high-value items. It can cover items lost due to theft, mysterious disappearance, breakage, fire, wind, and more. “It is an all-risk policy,” Ornelas said.

In some cases, homeowners can leave themselves vulnerable to theft because of what they share on social media platforms. According to Alessandrini, celebrities, athletes and other individuals can be targeted in this way when they post about “when they are out of town, or things they have purchased,” she said.

“That is why everyone always says you have to be very careful when you are posting on social media,” Alessandrini said. “Criminals look for that. Social media is not always private.”

Ornelas agreed, saying many individuals share too much detail online, likely without considering the risk. “They are often sharing their whole life story and showing what they have — a new purse, an engagement ring, or when they are on vacation,” she said. “You are almost asking for these sophisticated burglars to come and rob you.”

Many homeowners not adequately insured

In Winnebago County, Wisconsin, more than $100,000 worth of cash and jewelry was stolen in a recent home invasion burglary; according to police, a suspicious car was seen parked in a secluded area with higher-value homes just before the burglary took place, NBC 26 reported on May 2. In Kitchener, Ontario, police warned the public about a string of residential break-ins in the Waterloo Region in which jewelry and cash were stolen from homes after the suspects entered by breaking glass doors, CityNews Everywhere reported on March 11.

For many individuals, a standard Homeowners Insurance policy may only cover $2,500 to $5,000 in jewelry, depending on the policy; anything exceeding that amount would not be covered, Ornelas said.

“If someone breaks into your house and steals your jewelry, most Homeowners Insurance policies are only going to give you a maximum of $5,000. If you have a $10,000 engagement ring, you want that to be protected,” she said. For homeowners in California, where it is increasingly difficult to purchase Homeowners Insurance, individuals may also be hesitant about having a claim due to the risk of nonrenewal, she said. “They may want to put those items on a separate policy,” Ornelas said.


We have been hearing about very well-trained, sophisticated rings targeting high-end homes. It is happening everywhere.

A Personal Articles Floater, sometimes known as Inland Marine Insurance, typically offers worldwide coverage, has no deductible, and can cover the full value of the item. When purchasing this type of policy, homeowners should ask about how often their items should be appraised and whether there are any exclusions.

According to Alessandrini, homeowners often do not realize that their high-value items are underinsured. “It is so important to have that standalone policy for protection,” she said. “A lot of these crime rings are targeting high-end homes and those homeowners will often have more [value in jewelry] than what their Homeowners Insurance will cover. They do not always know they are underinsuring their items.”

This is why it is important to work with an insurance broker who will specifically ask about any fine art, jewelry or other items in the home that may need to be insured separately. “If they collect guitars and have them hanging on the wall, they should have insurance for that,” Alessandrini said.

Bolted safe may be required 

In addition to protecting their high-value items with a Personal Articles Floater, homeowners should take additional precautions when storing their collectibles. This may include monitored fire and burglar alarms and safes that are bolted to the floor versus standalone, which may be a requirement for some insurance policies, Ornelas said.

Anyone with high-end jewelry or fine art should consider what steps they have taken or can take to better protect their valuables, Alessandrini added. “How are you storing those items? Is it in a safe that can be lifted and taken out? You make it easy when you are not bolting the safes to the ground,” she said. “A bolted safe makes it a lot harder, and having those alarms and protections in place in your home can help deter a lot of crime.”


Unfortunately, we cannot replace your sentimental value, but we can replace the monetary value.

Other possible precautions include using earthquake putty to secure antiques, crystal and other collectibles, using closed hooks on hanging items, and having high-value paintings professionally installed, Ornelas said.

A bank vault may also be recommended, Alessandrini said, especially for jewelry items “that you only take out a couple of times each year to wear.”

Personal Articles Floaters are generally affordable and these policies have not fluctuated in price as much as other types of insurance, Ornelas pointed out. “In the grand scheme of things, PAFs tend to make up a small portion of your household’s annual insurance premium.  Additionally, rates within this product type have remained stable, while homeowner and umbrella rates have been on the rise.”

“Unfortunately, we cannot replace your sentimental value, but we can replace the monetary value of your collection,” Ornelas said.

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