Victims in massive theft ring won't rest until 4th suspect caught

Victims in massive theft ring won't rest until 4th suspect caught

VANCOUVER, Wash. – Members of the local Indian community say they won't sleep that well until they know everyone involved in massive theft ring has been arrested.

Police say the families were targeted by thieves who broke into as many as 40 homes across the area and stole gold and other valuables.

A regional task force arrested three suspects in Houston, Texas last month. Ana Maria Gutierrez, 32, is in the Washington County Jail. Two others, 18-year-old Rodney Portocarrero Riascos and 24-year-old Deenys Yossimar Ramos are being held for extradition in Houston.

Deputies say they think a fourth suspect, Vanderley Ortiz, 30, may be hiding in British Columbia.

For victims like Shirali Patel, until that fourth suspect is in custody, a walk to the store and a day at work will be filled with worry.

"You have that sense of insecurity now," she said. "Can I go to the grocery story? Do I know that my house could get broken into if I go to work?"

Patel worries because she knows the answer to that question on a September day was, "Yes."

Thieves broke into the back door of her family's Vancouver home and took everything that meant anything to them.

"Your heirlooms, things you'll never see again, never be replaced," she said. "I think that really hurts my family and my mom the most because she'll never see those things again, and that really hurts her because most of those things were irreplaceable."

Keeping wedding rings and gold jewelry from generations back in homes is a tradition that made the families a target for thieves.

Washington County detectives say the thieves traveled from Texas and targeted dozens of homes of Indian descent from Vancouver to Clackamas and Washington counties. Then investigators caught a break that led them to arrest the three suspects: a tip from a neighbor who spotted a car and license plate at a burglarized home.

"I think our entire Indian community is a lot more alert now," said Patel.

She is worried her community could be hit again.

"My reassurance is not there yet," she said. "And I'm very concerned as to what if somebody else hits my home. I mean, we've got nothing left, but still."

Wednesday was especially hard for the Patel family and their friends because it was India's biggest holiday of the year – Diwali. It's supposed to be a big celebration.

Washington County investigators believe there still may be other victims who haven't reported the theft or don't know they're a victim.