A large number of burglaries to vehicles in recent weeks in Naperville appear to be the work of an organized criminal group known as the Felony Lane Gang, which preys on women who leave their purses in cars, authorities said Wednesday.
Police said burglars have entered at least 15 vehicles in south Naperville since the beginning of March, striking in parking lots at day care centers, churches and several parks. They said within days of the burglaries the thieves used the women's stolen identities to steal money from several Chicago-area banks.
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Six burglaries were reported on March 15 in the area of 95th Street and Book Road, police said, and numerous others were reported in nearby neighborhoods.
Police say the method in which the burglaries were committed is consistent with the Felony Lane Gang, a large organization that is predominantly based in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. Gang members travel throughout the country committing "smash and grab" car burglaries and then using stolen items to establish false identities.
Several members of the group have been arrested over the past five years in the Chicago area and elsewhere across the country, police said, but others are taking their place.
Gang members typically use dark-colored vehicles, police said, and a black Ford Edge with tinted windows may have been used in the Naperville burglaries.
The burglars frequently are described as black men, often with braids or dreadlocks and gold teeth. The gang members using false identities at banks are women of a variety of races, many times disguised with a wig. They primarily use the farthest lane from the drive-up bank teller, often referred to as the "felony lane," which gives the gang its name.
Police said they are urging women not to leave their purses in their vehicles under any circumstances. Simply hiding purses in vehicles isn't enough to thwart gang members, police said.