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Felony Lane Gangs: What You Can Do to Protect Yourself
Posted September 7, 2021
Please be aware that the group known as the Felony Lane Gang is still at it. And they are getting even bolder. They break into cars to steal identification documents, credit cards, and checkbooks left in unattended vehicles. Then they can attempt to cash checks with stolen IDs, usually through the drive-through lane of a bank.
Who is The Felony Lane Gang?
The Felony Lane Gang (FLG), originated in Florida a decade ago and has been on the FBI’s list since then as well. They travel across the United States stealing identities and checkbooks from unattended cars in a maneuver called smash and grab. With the stolen driver’s licenses and checkbooks, the gang cashes checks using the drive-through lane of banks. The lane farthest from video cameras and tellers has been dubbed the "felony lane" because of the ease with which false identities can be used to cash checks. The men do the smash and grabs. The women cash the checks, often wearing wigs while sitting in the farthest drive-through lane to avoid detection.
Over the last five years, more than 1,500 Felony Lane Gang members have been identified and arrested nationwide, according to the Felony Lane Gang Task Force, which uses Facebook to help police nationwide catch these traveling thieves.
They Frequently Target Women
Anyone can be a victim of a car break-in, but the Felony Lane Gang most commonly targets women who leave their purses in their cars. Break-in locations often include Farmers Markets, local pools, carnivals, sporting events, parades, fireworks events, gyms, hiking trails, and many others; not only in the Hudson Valley but across the country. In a matter of seconds, the criminal will take a hammer, smash the window of a car, steal the purse, and be gone before anyone sees what happened. It can happen as fast as it takes to run in, drop off a child, and come back out.
How They Work
Once the FLG has your information, they will get someone from their team that looks similar to you from the picture on your driver’s license. They also now have your credit cards and likely your checkbook; all the information they need to visit your bank and pose as you. They’ll drive up in a nice car to the outside lane of the drive-through. They’ll wear sunglasses and may not roll the window all the way down which keeps the teller from getting a good look at them. So as not to draw too much suspicion, they typically will withdraw about $1,000 from your account. Your ID will be presented, and if the bank doesn’t know of the theft, they may pass the funds through the drive-up, and the criminal drives off. The FLG will keep hitting banks with your information until someone finally recognizes them as a fraud and asks them to come inside to verify information. At that point, the criminal realizes they’ve been caught and will drive off calmly. In most cases, they will have hidden their license plate from view, so even the best security cameras have a difficult time getting a license number.
Prevention is Easy
Be diligent! Take your wallets, purses, and pocketbooks with you including identification and banking information. Don’t leave them in your car. Even if locked, these criminals have been known to smash windows to get what they see and want.
If your ID and/or debit card are stolen, inform Ulster Savings Bank as soon as possible at 1-845-338-6322 and notify the police. Also, notify your credit card companies and any other service for which you might have carried identifying information in your car.