The “Felony Lane Gang,” which police say is a large group of thieves who smash car windows, hasn’t struck in Darien for a while, but Darien police detectives are actively helping other police agencies who are investigating them, Police Chief Duane Lovello said.
“The detective bureau continues to work the Felony Lane case pretty hard,” Lovello told the Police Commission at its meeting Wednesday.
“Lt. [Ronald] Bussell [commander of the Detective Division] is spending a lot of time on that, with a vast number of other agencies up and down the Eastern Seaboard, as well as the Feds on that,” Lovello said. “We do have a lot of information on the case, so we’ve been actively involved with that investigation.”
Law enforcement agencies have said the criminal gang, based in Fort Lauderdale, Fl., has perhaps 700 members who rent cars, travel across much of the United States and go into parking lots of public parks, fitness studios and places where drivers are apt to be parking for a while, then look for purses or wallets they can see in the windows of vehicles.
They smash the windows, often with devices created for just that purpose, grab purses and wallets and use the debit or credit card information, along with checks, to withdraw money from banks (sometimes using the far lane in a bank’s drive-through window — which police have dubbed the “felony lane” — because it’s a bit harder to for tellers to see the person making the withdrawal).
- Cops: Three Car Burglary Arrests Last Week only the Tip of the ‘Felony Lane Gang’ (Sept. 14, 2015 — this article has the most information about the Darien case)
- Windows Smashed, Purses Taken from 4 Vehicles in Cherry Lawn Park — Felony Lane Gang? (Nov. 2, 2015)
- Police: It Looks Like the Felony Lane Gang Is Back (Nov. 7, 2015)
- Men Charged in Darien YMCA Motor Vehicle Burglaries Now Charged with Ones at Cherry Lawn (Jan. 12, 2016)
Darienite.com also has other articles about incidents possibly related to the Felony Lane Gang.
In Darien, police have said, the gang appears to have struck at parking lots serving the Darien YMCA and Cherry Lawn Park. Darien police, working with West Haven police, arrested men found in cars in that communty and found items in the cars, some of which were stolen from Darien vehicles and some from vehicles in Connecticut and Massachusetts, police said.
Watching out in Darien
“They’ve been hitting Massachusetts pretty hard,” Lovello said. “But we haven’t seen them in a while” in Darien.
As a preventive measure, Darien police on patrol continue to watch parking lots in town closely, police Sgt. Alison Hudyma told the commission. “We’ve just been hitting the parking lots hard. You know, the shopping centers and things like that, where they’re known to look into cars to see if there’s anything in there to smash and grab […] So we’ve just had the guys go through there more often.”
Similar crimes are “rampant”
In two recent incidents at Stop & Shop at the Goodwives Shopping Center, pairs of individuals each bought hundreds of dollars worth of gift cards using what turned out to be stolen credit card numbers, Capt. Donald Anderson told the commission. The cards were apparently “cloned” using information stolen from credit cards or credit card accounts, because victims said they still had their own cards with them.
That type of crime is “rampant,” Anderson said, and there’s no indication that the thieves in those recent cases were connected in any way with the Felony Lane Gang or even that they were connected with each other.
See Wednesday’s Police Commission meeting
Discussion of the Felony Lane Gang took place from the 0:59 to 3:05 marks on this Darien TV79 video of the Wednesday, March 16 meeting of the Darien Police Commission: