Police are reiterating the need for residents to take wallets and purses out of vehicles while they are left unattended. Hiding these items is also discouraged. Roughly 60 vehicle burglaries in Naperville since Aug. 2010 are attributed to a gang of thieves who have netted in excess of $100,000 in smash and grab incidents.
A large-scale criminal group, often referred to as the Felony Lane Gang, specializes in daytime smash and grab vehicle burglaries. Police are alerting residents to the group’s presence here, according to a news release from the Naperville Police Department. The group began targeting Naperville in 2010. The most recent smash and grab took place on Sept. 21, according to police.
The thieves typically target areas where women might leave purses or wallets unattended inside vehicles, such as fitness clubs, parks, and daycare centers, the police said. Once the items are stolen, the members of the gang then use the identification and banking information to steal large amounts of money.
The Naperville Police said that since it began working with state and federal authorities gathering information it has learned that members of the gang are typically recruited in Florida and include male and female members, according to police. The men in the gang are typically black and have been described as having dreadlocks and gold teeth or beards and gold teeth. The men are often seen in a rental vehicle with Florida license plates, according to Naperville Police. The women involved in the gang are typically white.
The men smash windows of cars, often hitting several vehicles at one time and in seconds stealing wallets and purses left out in open. Once the robberies are completed, the women involved are given identification and checks to use to write fraudulent checks.
More than 100 members of the gang have been identified and several arrests have been made, police said, but there are still many active gang members.
The police ask residents to help prevent these crimes in the future and ask that wallets and purses never be left inside vehicles, even for a short period of time. Police also ask that if anyone notices suspicious vehicles at fitness centers, parks, churches or daycare centers that they contact police immediately.