A Chilean man who came to the UK, police believe, specifically to steal tourists' money, was sentenced at Isleworth Crown Court on Thursday, 12 October.
Emilio Guerrero-Sepulveda, 63 (25.11.53) made at least two trips, during which he stole unattended bags - each containing goods worth up to £7,000 - from south-east Asian tourists at Heathrow Airport and around the Capital.
Guerrero-Sepulveda was sentenced to three years and eight months in prison for 11 counts of theft.
Officers from the Met's Aviation Policing Crime Squad studied hours of CCTV footage that captured Guerrero-Sepulveda in the act at Heathrow Airport between August and September 2015 and March and August this year.
They then linked him to a number of thefts across Westminster and Hillingdon after identifying him in CCTV stills of those offences.
At around the same time, officers investigating another series of thefts arrested a man in Camberwell. Detectives found in his possession paperwork featuring Guerrero-Sepulveda's name and began making enquiries, ultimately identifying that Guerrero-Sepulveda was the man in the CCTV.
They arrested Guerrero-Sepulveda as he attempted to board a flight to Santiago in Chile at approximately 21:45hrs on Tuesday, 12 September.
They seized £1,000 in cash which he was carrying on him at the time and are seeking to have this money returned to his victims.
In total, Guerrero-Sepulveda stole cash and items worth a total estimated £30,000.
The single highest value theft took place in July this year when he targeted a man eating with a friend and their children at Selfridges on Oxford Street. Guerrero-Sepulveda stole the man's camera bag which was placed on a chair. The total value of the items stolen was £8,800.
The second highest value theft was in April this year when he targeted a woman who had arrived at Heathrow Airport on a flight from Nigeria. He stole her bag, containing cash and goods worth approximately £7,400, from the top of a luggage trolley.
In other instances, he stole bags containing as much as £5,000-worth of goods including designer clothes, jewellery and digital devices from victims at Heathrow Airport.
CCTV stills retrieved by investigators show Guerrero-Sepulveda stealing the bag of a man shopping at Monica Vinader jewellers in Mayfair on Friday, 16 June. Sepulveda is seen with his jacket draped across his arm to try and disguise the fact he was picking up the victim's rucksack from the floor.
Guerrero-Sepulveda only found £20 cash in the bag and told police he threw everything else away, but officers totted up the value of other items, including a Porsche wallet worth £100, a Porsche cardigan worth £220 and a Porsche keyring worth £50. They also added the £300 cost to the victim of having the locks to his home changed, as his keys were in the bag, bringing the total value of the theft to around £1,140.
On another occasion, Guerrero-Sepulveda callously stole an 84-year-old London resident's handbag, containing £160 cash, from her mobility scooter while she was shopping at a supermarket in Uxbridge.
The court heard how Guerrero-Sepulveda had previous convictions for theft in the USA and France.
Investigating officer PC Tom Blair, of the Aviation Policing Crime Squad, said: "Guerrero-Sepulveda is a prolific thief. He largely targeted people, he guessed were tourists, and whom he anticipated would be carrying large amounts of cash on them.
"He took advantage of people who, unlike him, had come to the UK to enjoy the sights and make good memories, and instead turned their visit into a nightmare.
"The Met is determined to stop thieves like Guerrero-Sepulveda, to keep London safe for tourists. We believe Guerrero-Sepulveda was part of a wider network of tourist-targeting thieves and continue to investigate the involvement of others.
"My advice to anyone visiting London is to beware of distractions and stay alert at all times. Always keep your luggage in your sight and ideally keep it on you. If you are carrying large quantities of cash, do not keep it in one bag alone. Consider wearing a money belt, so you can keep it on you at all times."
More crime prevention advice for tourists can be found at: www.met.police.uk/crime-prevention/theft-from-a-person