Felony Lane Gang Targets Mom’s Purses, Identity Theft Follows Purse Thefts in Chicagoland

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The Felony Lane Gang may be operating in Arlington Heights. Recent quick grab vehicle burglaries involving purse thefts at Aldi, Valli Produce, and Bright Horizons Daycare, and suspicious activity near South Middle School on Highland Avenue indicate the Felony Lane Gang may be operating here. Sunday, October 2, 2016, a group with backpacks was prowling around South Middle School and asking questions about what was happening inside the school while a youth basketball game was held inside the gym.

The Felony Lane Gang got the name in law enforcement circles because they use the outside lane of bank drive-thru lanes so their own identities and visibility are difficult to determine, while they use victims’ identification, or fake accounts based on their victims. The Felony Lane Gang has a reputation for going through unlocked cars or smashing out windows to grab valuables, IDs, credit cards, and checkbooks left inside. They also operate at banks with attempts to steal identity and remove cash from bank accounts.

Naperville police warned residents in September 2016 about the Felony Lane Gang operating in their community. Remember, the Felony Lane Gang — a team of vehicle burglary expert opportunists that also practice identity theft.

The Felony Lane Gang are opportunists that are good at the following organized vehicle burglary operations …

• Finding unlocked cars or smashing windows in large areas where there is plenty of room to flee if detected.

• Moving fast during victim dropoffs when they know you’ll be gone from your car for about three or four minutes while dropping off your child at daycare, or waiting in line inside the gas station. They can get your unattended purse in seconds. They aren’t afraid to smash a window and run to a getaway car that is out of sight around the corner with a team member waiting.

Identifying venues with predictable time periods for vacated cars with unattended valuables. The Felony Lane Gang targets fitness centers, gyms, schools during sporting events, churches, gas stations, and hair salons, etc. Sporting events are a recent favorite because everyone tends to enter and leave the school at about the same time, leaving a defined time period to commit the crime. Compare that to a hair salon where there might be a random stream of women going in and coming out of the business. The offenders might even walk up to your car and ask you when the basketball game is over, or whether there is a church service going on inside the school. Many people in Arlington Heights are friendly and might answer, “There is a basketball game going on; it will be over about 3:00 p.m.” Bingo, you just helped the Felony Lane Gang.

Suburbs like Arlington Heights and Naperville are good targets for the gang because the arguably upscale or money-earning residents have their targeted prizes — cash, checkbooks or credit cards in their cars. Their victims are not prepared to prevent the gang’s type of crime and will leave a purse in an unlocked car for a few minutes. The communities are marketed or perceived as low-crime communities, so residents ignore warnings to keep cars locked, keep valuables out of sight, or to refrain from leaving anything valuable unattended. Remember the Felony Lane Gang will shatter glass under the right circumstances. A gang partner can pick up the vehicle burglar in a rental car used as a quick getaway car, which can’t be traced to the offender’s address. The rental car can be rented with false identity from another state, so police won’t be waiting for them when they get back to home base either.

In addition, Arlington Heights and Naperville have police departments that are non-live or non-realtime public police communicators. Both use protected radio communications, which prevent the media and neighborhood watch groups from knowing if the Felony Lane Gang just hit the neighborhood next door. The Arlington Heights Police Department does a good job of reporting vehicle burglaries, but the alerts are usually 12 to 24 to 48 hours after the fact. Rarely, the alerts are 3 to 6 hours after the crime. The ideal public police dispatch is live, which is riskier for the Felony Lane Gang, who fear the eyes of an alert public. A citizen or an off-duty police officer that can hear a live police dispatch can put an eyeball on an offender, or at least be aware that crime is happening real-time, and take extra precautions, get a clear vehicle description or note a detailed suspect description. Hundreds of Facebook pages or Twitter accounts nationwide are dedicated to posting public-enabled police radio dispatches, which can alert tens of thousand of subscribers in seconds. In communities like Arlington Heights and Naperville with the public unaware in real-time, criminals know they have a defined time for the police to respond — about 4 to 7 minutes. With a safety margin time of less than one minute for smash, grab and go; criminals know they will be long gone by the time the crime is detected, reported to 9-1-1, dispatched; and before police arrive on the scene. And if they’re unlucky and find a police squad that happens to be around the corner when they’re about to strike, they have the team lookout members to warn them to hold off.

The Felony Lane Gang are good at coming out of nowhere, especially in the dark after sunset or before dawn. But they’re not afraid to come up to you during daylight and ask about an event inside a school while you are sitting in your car.

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If you want to watch out for the Felony Lane Gang, look for two or three men or women. They might be in a huddle about one-half block or one block away. Or they might be sitting in a rental car with out-of-state license plates. They might remind you of solicitors. If they split up, one might walk down a block in one direction, but not too far. Another might head to a different direction — again, not too far. Those two primarily function as lookouts. They might be talking to each other on cell phones. They’re watching for the local police to come creeping up on a cross street. The other might walk straight for your event venue while you’re sitting in your car. That one might be very sociable, in order to get into close striking distance, or distract you from the lookout subject that just converted to the primary vehicle burglar. So while the close-up subject is asking you for directions, or what time the basketball game is over, another is ripping off your son’s classmate’s mother’s purse that she forgot to take out of her Range Rover or Kia, it doesn’t matter. If you’re loading groceries, one might distract you while the other gets your purse in the front seat right before it’s right before your eyes.

Naperville police warned their residents that the “group especially targets school drop-off lanes, gyms and other spots where women might leave their purses in the car while dropping off kids, watching sports or taking an exercise class.”

On their official Facebook page, Naperville police warned that offenders often target women’s purses in locked or unlocked vehicles at daycare centers, school drop-offs, gyms, dog parks, sports facilities, and any other recreational area where purses are routinely locked in cars, placed under a seat, hidden beneath a blanket or secured in a trunk.

In December 2015, the Naperville Police Department also warned residents of the active vehicle burglars.

In September 2011, Arlington Heights Police arrested a Felony Lane Gang that was active in Crystal Lake at the former La Quinta hotel on Dundee Road near Route 53. Arlington Heights police investigators arrived at La Quinta to check on a lead picked up by Crystal Lake police. Arlington Heights police successfully found the gang and arrested three of the four suspects.

More from The Cardinal …

Forgery Suspects: Three of Four “Felony Lane Gang Members” Caught at Arlington Heights La Quinta, 1 Caught in Crystal Lake

Purse Theft While Customer Loading Groceries at Aldi on Golf Rd, Arlington Heights

Theft of Purse from Shopping Cart at Valli Produce, Arlington Heights

Vehicle Burglary in Only 10 Minutes at Daycare Center on Kennicott Ave, Arlington Heights

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