Investigators believe 'criminal tourists' targeting wealthy Bay Area communities

A rash of residential burglaries in a tiny Peninsula town is raising concerns. Investigators believe criminals from outside the Bay Area and the country could be responsible.

Hillsborough resident Kellie Meyers said there was evidence of trouble after she returned from a trip in late February. Her bedroom door was locked from the inside.

Behind that locked door was damage, and expensive items such as a wall safe and keepsakes from her father – all stolen in one of the towns recent residential burglaries.

"I had been very badly burglarized. And the thieves had come in through the master bathroom window," said Meyers. "I thought I did everything right, and we weren’t vulnerable to this sort of thing. But it wasn’t enough."

Despite high-tech security spread throughout her nicely appointed ranch-style home, she said thieves got in and out without setting off the alarms.

Hillsborough police posted to social media a similar crime occurred Mar. 12, in the 2500 block of Butternut Drive. Multiple criminals can be seen on surveillance video walking in, and walking away, with valuables, including the homeowner’s SUV.

"So they can go through glass pretty easily. Even double-paned glass that has new windows. They go right through the frames. That’s no obstacle," said Meyers.

Hillsborough police said so-called criminal tourists are to blame. Burglary crews from South America and elsewhere have entered the country, and escalated from pick pocketing and jewelry heists to targeting wealthy communities.

Fremont resident Dave Wierdsma drove to Hillsborough and told police there that he’s been targeted three times, perhaps by the same crew. He believed the thieves that burglarized his apartment came from South America.

"I’m ringed out. I’ve got a ring on the door. I’ve got internal rings, you know, that kind of thing. I’m doing what I can," he said. A Hillsborough police sergeant who greeted Wierdsma in the lobby told him, "It sounds like you’ve got, doing as much as you can."

Police detectives said one member of the current crew targeting Hillsborough homes has been identified, and an arrest warrant has been issued.

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Kellie Meyers said homeowners should add as much security as possible, because criminals are adapting with the times.

"The onus is on us to protect ourselves, the best we can," said Meyers.

She also suggests sharing information and video when there is a crime to aid the investigation. To date, there haven’t been any injuries to people, just theft and property damage.

Jesse Gary is a KTVU South Bay Reporter, based in San Jose. Email Jesse at or call him at (408) 954-6120. Or follow him on Twitter @jesseKTVU.