Sao Paulo Burglar Accused of Masquerading as a Jew to Break Into Homes in Jewish Neighborhood

The 20-year-old man allegedly donned a kippah and faked an accent to gain access to buildings in a Jewish neighborhood. He has been released after paying $235 in bail pending trial.

A man wearing a skullcap at a demonstration in Lyon, France, 2014.
AFP

A 20-year-old man pretending to be Jewish by wearing a kippah and faking a foreign accent and is accused of several burglaries in a heavily Jewish neighborhood of Sao Paulo, Brazil.

Arrested in February after breaking into an apartment and stealing $100, Francisco Danilo Cordeiro Rocha is accused of perpetrating at least another four burglaries in the Higienopolis neighborhood. He took some $150,000 in jewels and other items, according to victims. He was released after paying $235 in bail, according to the G1 news portal.

Rocha reportedly impersonated a Jewish person in order to gain access to buildings. He often claims to be visiting a rabbi or delivering a document from a nearby synagogue. During the first night of Passover, he was taped by local security cameras deceiving doormen.

“He is smart, doesn’t get intimidated and talks like rabbis with an American-ish accent,” said an Orthodox Jewish lawyer and resident who preferred to remain anonymous, according to the O Estado de S. Paulo newspaper. “That’s how he managed to deceive doormen who are less careful.

“The Jewish community is really frightened, concerned and very sad, mainly because the police have been lenient.”

A Jewish resident, Elaine Markovits, posted pictures of the burglar on social media and alerted doormen and superintendents in several buildings in the neighborhood of Rocha, according to O Estado de S. Paulo.

“It’s not uncommon to see people commit crimes disguised in uniforms in Sao Paulo, but this guy who dressed as Jew was an isolated case and the Jewish community does not need to worry,” Octavio Aronis, security director of the Brazilian Israelite Confederation, told JTA this week. “To me it’s not a matter to be handled by our community security but rather by the police.”

Sao Paulo is home to some 60,000 Jews, half of Brazil’s Jewish community.