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Two teens charged in immigrant house burglary

A 16-year-old from Thailand and a 14-year-old from Somalia were arrested Tuesday afternoon on burglary charges at the home of a Somali family on Fox Street, according Ferry-Fillmore District police.

The arrests highlight a series of crimes against immigrants, often involving young members of their own ethnic community stealing from them. In recent months, similar incidents have occurred on the Lower West Side and other sections of Buffalo where there are large immigrant and refugee communities.

Police said the teenagers have been riding their bicycles from Black Rock over to the East Side neighborhood and victimizing other immigrants during the daytime when they are out working or in school.

But the two were caught after police received a 911 call at about 12:45 p.m. Tuesday from a neighbor who noticed them breaking into the rear of a dwelling in the 100 block of Fox. When Officer Richard C. Lopez and Capt. Robert Joyce arrived, the suspects were already fleeing on their bicycles. The teens were apprehended after a brief car chase by police.

Lopez and Joyce found a large amount of gold jewelry on the teens, leading them to suspect they had committed other burglaries in the Broadway-Herman neighborhood earlier Tuesday.

The owner of the house was not home at the time, and police say it is likely that other residents were away and did not know their homes had been burglarized, given the amount of jewelry that was recovered.

About 20 pieces of gold jewelry were confiscated from the teens. They were wearing some of it and had hidden the rest in their pockets, according to police.

To reclaim stolen jewelry, police said, victims should contact Ferry-Fillmore District detectives at 693 E. Ferry St.

The teens were charged with felony counts of burglary, criminal possession of stolen property, criminal mischief and possession of burglary tools.