Items were taken from an unlocked car at Goodwives Shopping Center last Tuesday, Oct. 10 and at about the same time, the drivers of three other vehicles a half block away were even worse off — windows of their SUVs were smashed. Five days later, on Sunday, Oct. 15, someone visiting a grave at St. John’s Cemetery at 25 Camp Ave.
Early Friday morning, between 7:15 and 8:10 a.m., a sport utility vehicle pulled into the Darien YMCA parking lot, and when it stopped, two men got out, smashed windows of nearby cars and took purses that were on the floor of each. The burglaries were similar to those of the Felony Lane Gang, a Florida group that law enforcement authorities have said contain 700 members who rent vehicles across much of the country, smash windows to grab purses, and hand over credit cards, debit cards and checks for accomplices to exchange for money. The group has struck vehicles in Darien and other nearby communities. When they go to banks, they tend to use drive-up windows in the lane farthest from the teller, leading police to dub them the “Felony Lane Gang.” They often commit many burglaries in the same region, often striking at parking lots of fitness clubs and parks, but no area communities reported similar thefts in the days surrounding the one in Darien, a Police Department spokesman said.
Two vehicles, apparently both unlocked, were entered in Woodway Country Club parking lots, and credit cards taken from one of them were used before either of the victims realized the thefts had taken place, police said. Police say they’ve been examining a surveillance video recording of the parking lot from when the crimes took place late in the afternoon of Wednesday, June 29 at the club, located at 412 Hoyt St. In one case, a 2014 Jeep Limited, inadvertently left unlocked along the pond side of a parking lot, was entered when it was parked there from 2 to 4:45 p.m. Police said the thief was caught on surveillance camera at about 4:15 p.m. entering the cars. The victim, a 59-year-old New Canaan woman, said she didn’t realize anything had been taken until she received a call the next day from her bank asking her about some transactions. Police said nothing was reported stolen other than credit and debit cards.
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.
Three Fort Lauderdale, Fla. men already charged with breaking into vehicles in the Darien YMCA parking lot on Sept. 9 have now been charged with doing the same at the parking lot at Cherry Lawn Park on Sept. 7. When Oliver Chance, 24; Kenton Chance, 31; and Jerevonte Bray, 18 each appeared in state Superior Court in Stamford on Jan.
Recent car break-ins on Saturday, Oct. 31 at Cherry Lawn Park (the second time windows of several vehicles were smashed at the park) look like the work of the Felony Lane Gang, Darien police said Friday in an announcement. Police said that in the past week break-ins that also look like the work of the gang have occurred in “dozens of similar incidents” in other area communities. Unauthorized charges have been made to credit cards and debit cards stolen from purses in the vehicles, also a mark of the gang. The brief statement on Friday said that cars in the parking lots of fitness clubs, parks and day-care centers are typically targeted.
After windows of four vehicles were smashed and thieves took purses at Cherry Lawn Park, Darien police are wondering if the “Felony Lane Gang” has paid the town another visit. On Oct. 31, four vehicles were hit in the park at 120 Brookside Road in a very short time. Purses were taken from the floors and seats inside, although none of the credit cards were stolen by the time police wrote up a report on the incidents. Weeks ago, Darien police said, the town was visited by members of the “Felony Lane Gang”, a national group of thieves who targeted items in vehicles.
Three Florida men arrested last week by Darien police in connection with motor vehicle burglaries in town appear to be a tiny part of an enormous gang, hundreds strong, who steal purses from cars, Darien police said. The following account is based on a Darien police description of their investigation, which contains accusations not proven in court:
Police believe the men already arrested had also broken into cars last week, both in a lot at Cherry Lawn Park and in the parking lot at the Darien YMCA. A second group of men, connected with the Darien arrestees, were found and arrested in West Haven in connection with motor vehicle break-ins near that community. Police say the 10-year-old group they’ve named the “Felony Lane Gang,” based in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., has had 700 known members, has been conducting car break-ins as professional criminals in at least 40 states, and has several distinct ways it typically commits its crimes. “Felony Lane” is a nickname for the far right lane at a bank drive-up window.
Three Florida men who committed “several ‘smash and grab’ type car burglaries” in Darien in the past week were arrested Thursday night, Darien police announced late Friday morning. Darien police, who made the arrest in West Haven with the help of police in that community, gave this account (with accusations not proven in court):
The men went into vehicles in parking lots in Darien that had purses and other items visible through the windows. Proceeds from some of the burglaries were found in the West Haven area, and Darien police identified the vehicle that suspects were using for the break-ins in town and for crimes in “several other cities and states.” On Thursday, Darien and West Haven police “conducted a focused surveillance” at several locations in West Haven, and at 11:30 p.m., a West Haven officer saw the vehicle police were looking for as it rolled down Elm Street in that town. It had been rented from a car rental business located at Fort Lauderdale Airport.