Long Island, New York, produce dealer Mike Longo knew there was a problem the moment his phone rang in the wee hours of a Sunday morning in July 2010.
"Nothing good happens at 3 in the morning," he told CNBC's "American Greed." "When you get a phone call, it's never good news."
He said his worst fears were realized when he arrived at his business, Arrow Produce, to find an estimated $150,000 in cash and property missing.
"Everything was taken from me," he said. "Everything you work for your entire life."
Longo said he initially suspected an inside job because the burglary was so precise. The burglars had managed to enter the warehouse during a rare stretch of down time, disabling an alarm system hidden deep inside the old building.
But investigators eventually traced the break-in to a prolific, high-tech burglary crew that hit more than 50 Long Island businesses over five years, stealing an estimated $10 million.
Nine people pleaded guilty to state and federal charges including burglary and interstate transportation of stolen property. They included ringleader Nikitas Margiellos, who is serving a 10-year prison sentence, and New York City Police Detective Rafael Astacio, who admitted supplying inside information to crew members and helping them evade police. Astacio is serving a six-year prison sentence.
"This was far from a smash-and-grab operation," said Rick Whelan, chief of the Organized Crime and Rackets Bureau in the Nassau County District Attorney's Office, in an interview with "American Greed." "This is, in my experience, likely the most sophisticated burglary crew that I've encountered."
Chris Caffarone, an assistant United States attorney for the Eastern District of New York, said the crew was so advanced, it was like something out of the movies.
"It was like 'Ocean's Eleven,' just without Brad Pitt, George Clooney and Matt Damon," he said.