SAN JOSE, Calif. - San Jose police announced Friday that two men have been arrested in connection to what they describe as a Romanian organized crime spree, where the suspects target members of the Asian and Indian communities.
The two were identified as Mogos Constantin, 35, and Renaldo Vaduva, 19.
This week, police served search warrants in San Jose and Livermore thought to be connected to about 25 criminal cases, spanning from July to October. The crimes included armed carjacking, armed robbery, strong arm robbery, and grand theft.
San Jose police announced Friday that two men have been arrested in connection to what they describe as a Romanian organized crime spree, where the suspects target members of the Asian and Indian communities. Photo: SJPD
Police found $13,000 in cash, three cars and evidence possibly associated to the crimes of jewelry swap scams, Facebook Marketplace vehicle scams, credit card skimmers, and money laundering.
San Jose police described the typical modus operandi of the scam.
The suspects will approach an elderly person in a car, while they are outside or on the sidewalk.
Usually, there is a male driver and at least one or more female passengers.
They will ask the elderly person for directions or pretend it's their birthday.
The suspects then thank the elderly person by placing fake costume jewelry on them, often swapping out real jewelry for the fake jewelry and forcibly taking real jewelry.
The suspects often drive new SUV rental vehicles.
"These rings in particular tend to hit-and-run where they will be in a community for a brief period of time, commit a lot of crimes and then they move on to the next. So they're hard to track down," said Steven Clark a former prosecutor.
In many cases, police said the crime ring uses women in traditional dress as a distraction. There have been two recent cases like this.
One happened at a San Jose alterations shop. Surveillance video shows someone distracting the owner, while others make off with a safe containing $150,000 worth of valuables.
In another incident an Indian dressmaker was targeted. A group of women pretended to shop, while others stole jewelry and other heirlooms.
"They cleaned out everything and they walked out," said Raj Pokarlori.
"It's no longer just these parlor scams. It's actually violent crime, carjackings, robberies, things of that nature. So it's taken on a much different texture, so I think that's why you're seeing such a focus on it," said Clark.
Anyone with information is asked to contact Detective Grodin #4591 of the San José Police Department's Robbery Unit at (408) 277-4166 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
KTVU's Ann Rubin contributed to this report.