Authorities in two southern Denton County towns are investigating thieves that target purses left inside parked vehicles and suspect a gang that specializes in smash-and-grab burglaries is responsible.
The Flower Mound Police Department reported a rash of vehicle break-ins at LifeTime Fitness, 3100 Churchill Drive, on May 11 and May 16. A total of four vehicle burglaries occurred, all with purses reported stolen.
Flower Mound Police are asking anyone with information about a dark grey Nissan Altima seen driving through the parking lot at the time of the offenses to call 972-539-0525 or the Anonymous Crime Tip Line at 972-874-3307.
A similar smash-and-grab incident occurred on May 13 at a day care center in Bartonville.
“The victim parked her car shortly after 8 a.m. and went inside for just a few minutes. Her purse was left in plain view in her car,” said Bartonville Police Chief Dave Howell. “The suspect broke the door glass, took the purse and then drove away. A few hours later someone was trying to pass a forged check in Arlington using the victim’s identity.”
Howell said the investigation has led them to believe the “Felony Lane Gang” is involved.
The group, based mostly out of Florida, targets vehicles parked at day cares, fitness centers, parks and golf courses looking for credit cards and checkbooks. They work during the day when banks are open.
“We recommend taking your purse in with you every time you get out of your car. Hiding it somewhere may not be enough. Felony Lane Gang targets vehicles with purses in order to commit forgeries, credit card fraud and other types of identity theft crimes,” said Howell.
According to online reports, an example of a Felony Lane Gang crime might go like this: After breaking into cars, the gang obtains Mary’s driver’s license, Mary’s checkbook and Susan’s checkbook. One of the group’s members then disguises herself to look like Mary. Next, she goes to Mary’s bank and uses the farthest drive-thru lane to avoid being seen clearly by employees or surveillance cameras. The fraudster then cashes one of Susan’s stolen checks, making sure the check draws upon an account in a bank other than Mary’s. This lessens the chance of being promptly detected. Later, she goes to Susan’s bank and cashes a check stolen from Mary.
Felony Lane Gang members use fake identification to rent cars and move frequently, never staying near the area they hit. The cons also make purchases with stolen credit cards and sell them, along with stolen ID’s, to other criminals. The group is comprised of both men and women of various races and ethnicities.
Howell added that no matter what town you are in, always be aware of your surroundings and report suspicious activity or persons by calling 911.