A national crime network known as the "Felony Lane Gang" has stretched into metro D.C., targeting women who leave purses in cars and stealing from their bank accounts, crime analysts say.
The network is currently active in at least 34 states, drawing the attention of crime analysts who have been tracking its spread.
The gang's M.O. sticks out: It starts when they spot a purse or wallet left visible in a car.
“They’re surveilling daycare centers, they’re surveilling shopping centers, they’re surveilling those places where people would pull in and park their car for a few minutes or a few hours," said Louis Grever, a retired FBI agent now consulting with the Wynyard Group who has tracked the Felony Lane Gang.
The gang smashes the window if needed, then takes the purse or wallet. They immediately try to cash any checks they find, heading to drive-through banks and using the farthest lane from the teller to avoid detection.
That last-lane trick is how the gang got their name. The gang may also try to match the perpetrator to the stolen identity.
“They’ll go to extremes to try to camouflage how they look," said Officer Bud Walker of Fairfax County Police. "And I’ve heard of wigs, and masks, and that kind of thing.”
The analysts tracking the Felony Lane Gang say the technique has spread north from South Florida in the past 10 years.
"They'll take $900 to $1,000 at a time," said Matt Melton, senior solutions consultant for the Wynyard Group, who has aggregated data on the gang and identified its leaders.
"You take a step back and you realize it’s a national organization that’s costing Americans tens of millions of dollars," Melton said.