A national organized crime ring that targets places frequented by women has again been linked to theft and fraud in the south metro area.
The Arapahoe County Sheriff's Office is investigating the theft of a purse and checkbook from a locked vehicle at a day care center in the 6800 block of S. Quebec St. in Centennial. The crime may be connected to the "Felony Lane Gang," according to the sheriff's office.
A suspect in the late-July crime has been described by the sheriff's office as a white woman between 50 and 60 years old. She tried to cash stolen checks at several area banks using identification obtained during previous thefts from vehicles, the sheriff's office said. She may have been driving a gray or silver SUV.
Felony Lane Gang members "have been operating for years and are known for using the farthest drive-through lane at a bank to try to cash stolen checks," according to the sheriff's office. While the suspects prefer unlocked vehicles, they will smash windows to gain entry if needed.
"These mostly are happening in broad daylight," said Julie Brooks, public information officer for the sheriff's office. "As with many other types of crimes, being aware and observant can help. Look around when you are dropping your kids off at day care or heading into the gym. Do you see people just sitting in their car? Have you seen the car there before? If you see suspicious behavior, report it immediately."
In January, the sheriff's office reported it suspected members of the group were responsible for at least three recent thefts in Centennial - and possibly more in the metro area.
A national task force has been established to combat the gang. The Felony Lane Gang Task Force has a Facebook page, www.facebook.com/FelonyLaneGang, dedicated to this pursuit.
According to the page:
"Members of the Felony Lane Gang are normally based in south Florida and from there travel the country in rental vehicles; they target gyms, parks, day care centers, and sporting events likely to be frequented by women and increasing the chances of finding purses left in vehicles; they conduct surveillance at these locations and unlawfully enter vehicles through unlocked doors or by using a window punch to break the window of a locked vehicle; and they specifically look for identification such as driver's licenses, checks, and debit cards.
"The suspects then recruit females who are normally prostitutes and/or drug addicts to assume the identities of the theft victims in order to cash stolen checks belonging to other victims. The suspects normally supply the recruited check cashers with wigs in order to create a physical appearance similar to that of the victims whose identification was stolen."
The sheriff's office asks anyone with information on the latest incident to call Crime Stoppers at 720-913-7867 or the ACSO tip line at 720-874-8477.
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