Man impersonating Jew breaks into buildings in Jewish Sao Paulo district

(JTA) – A 20-year-old male wearing a yarmulke, faking a foreign accent and pretending to be Jewish is accused of several burglaries in a heavily Jewish-populated neighbourhood in Sao Paulo, Brazil.

“Disguising in outfits of certain jobs is a common crime 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. “To me it’s not a matter to be handled by our community security, but rather by the police.”

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

Rocha reportedly impersonated a Jewish person in order to gain free 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. That’s how he managed to deceive doormen who are less careful,” said an Orthodox Jewish lawyer and resident who preferred to remain anonymous, according to the O Estado de S. Paulo newspaper.

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

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

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

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