Police say a Chilean woman arrested on burglary and theft charges in New York has confessed to acting as a lookout during a jewelry heist in downtown St. Helena.
Massiel Mondaca, 34, has also given police the names of three Chilean men she said broke into the Padis jewelry store on the night of July 7-8 and stole a significant amount of jewelry, according to a St. Helena Police Department press release.
The three men are in custody on an immigration hold in San Bernardino, where they are awaiting deportation to Chile. As hearsay evidence, Mondaca’s confession alone isn’t sufficient to charge the men, so St. Helena police are trying to use DNA evidence to tie them to the crime scene before they are deported.
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At about 3 a.m. on the night of the burglary, an officer contacted a woman on Money Way behind the Padis jewelry store. Working with surrounding law enforcement agencies and the Federal Bureau of Investigation, police used the officer’s body camera footage, photos and contacts to identify the woman as Mondaca.
Under interrogation by the FBI, Mondaca confessed to her involvement in the Padis burglary and named her three accomplices, police said. She is currently in New Jersey awaiting extradition to Napa County. Police said Mondaca is tied to a Chilean group that has been involved in similar crimes around the U.S. and Canada.
Acting Chief Chris Hartley said the entire St. Helena Police Department worked on the investigation, which was led by Officer Todd Heald, with assistance from the Napa Police Department’s evidence technician, New Jersey police, San Leandro police, and the FBI.