A Colombian had heard from an acquaintance how easy it was to make "good money" through housebreaking in Singapore.
Foranda Arias Fredy, 43, flew here on July 12 last year with another Columbian - known to him only as Maurisio - to do just that.
In a district court on Monday, Fredy pleaded guilty to breaking into 16 homes on his two trips here and stealing nearly $650,000 in cash and valuables.
He also admitted to making a false declaration to the immigration authorities on his second trip in October, that he had not been to Singapore using a passport under a different name.
He was jailed a total of 9 1/2 years.
Deputy Public Prosecutor Sanjiv Vaswani told the court that the duo met up with two other Columbians - known only as Fatty and Skinny - during their first trip here.
The four of them would scour landed properties in Bukit Timah, Simei and Bishan to look for houses without occupants. Fredy would ring the door bell to make doubly sure before the group would climb over the gate.
He would then break into the rear of the house by forcing open a window or a door while the others acted as lookouts.
On two instances, he dragged a safe out of the house. When a safe proved too heavy, he devised a pulley with a laundry basket and a blanket to lift it over the gate.
In August, Fredy returned to Columbia but flew in again on Oct 14 using a passport bearing a different name. He then teamed up with two others: Liz Torres Cardona, 36, and Monica Yasmin Tabares Hernandez, 35, to break into three homes.
Cardona was jailed for 2 1/2 years last December, while Hernandez is awaiting her day in court. Fredy's other accomplices are at large.