After a breakout of burglaries this weekend, the Gainesville Police Department is warning residents against leaving personal belongings, like purses, in their cars.
This weekend’s incidents are similar to a spree in St. Louis called the “Felony Lane Gang” crimes.
“Felony Lane is nothing new to law enforcement and it’s widespread all over the country,” said Gainesville Police Department spokesman Ben Tobias. “Gainesville has been fairly lucky over the past few years, we haven’t been hit too hard with them.”
Tobias said GPD received reports of four crimes in a two-hour period that fit the characteristics of “Felony Lane Gang” this past weekend. The thieves targeted cars parked for extended amounts of time at places like day care centers, gyms and shopping malls, Tobias said. They generally steal purses in the hopes of finding credit cards, checkbooks and forms of identification.
Locking car doors isn’t enough — burglars have gone as far as to break car windows to steal visible bags, Tobias said.
Felony Lane Gang criminals, like those who struck in Gainesville this weekend, take stolen forms of identification, credit cards and/or checkbooks to banks in attempts to withdraw money from owners’ accounts. Tobias said the criminals have been known to wear wigs to banks in an effort to impersonate who they’ve stolen from.
“Generally within a few moments of someone realizing that they’ve suffered a break-in there’s credit card activity,” Tobias said.
In one of the four Gainesville incidents, a 40-year-old woman and her 12-year-old daughter confronted a suspect who was breaking into their car. The woman struck the suspect with a tennis racket and he fled in a dark blue Toyota Corolla, Tobias wrote in an email.
The Alachua County Sheriff’s Office also received reports of similar crimes, Tobias said. The investigations are ongoing.