CRANSTON, R.I. (WPRI) – They break into cars, steal identities and drain bank accounts. The FBI calls them the “Felony Lane Gang, and Call 12 for Action has learned they’ve hit Rhode Island.
In a case in Cranston, the transaction was quick; thousands of dollars, stolen during a drive-through transaction, according to Cranston Police Detective Paul Bessette.
According to the FBI, the Felony Lane Gang, a loosely organized burglary and identity theft ring, got its name because the criminals use the drive-through lane furthest from the bank to commit their crimes, the so-called “felony lane.”
“My victim is a blonde-haired female, so she wore the blonde wig for the transaction,” Bessette said.
Police say the thieves are targeting gyms, parks and even daycare facilities, places where women are more likely to leave their purses in their cars.
“They’re using the person’s ID and checkbooks to cash checks and withdraw money from the female’s account whose car they’ve broken into,” Bessette explained.
Because the criminals have the victim’s ID, they know what she looks like and can disguise themselves, at least enough to fool a banker from the drive-through lane. The money is gone before the victim even realizes her car was broken into.
“We’re not talking hundreds,” Bessette said. “They’re cashing checks for thousands of dollars.”
According to the FBI, the Felony Lane Gang originated in Florida but has been operating across the country. Detectives like Bessette use social media to connect with each other and track down the thieves.
“They’ve gotten some identifications from a detective saying, ‘Oh, that’s Mary Jane or that’s Susie Jones.'”
Bessette says he’s making progress on his case. He recently found out the suspect in Cranston is also suspected in a case in another state.
The way to protect yourself from this crime is simple: Don’t leave your purse or other personal belongings in your car.