(CBS 17)- Traveling criminals who are hard to catch are hitting the Triangle in North Carolina.
Police call them the Felony Lane Gang and they’ve caught the eye of the FBI as well as lots of local police agencies like detectives in Cary.
The gang got its name because they used to bring stolen checks to the furthest lane of drive up tellers at banks—thus the name the “Felony Lane Gang.”
“They would go to the far lane of a drive-through where it was harder for the tellers to ID who the person was,” said Cary Police Captain John Szymeczek.
But now, they don’t go after checks anymore–instead, it’s credit and debit cards – – cards found in wallets and purses left behind in parked cars.
It’s a bad habit that that puts lots of people at risk.
“I leave my wallet in car,” admitted Jennifer Hodge who was parked in the lot at Cary’s Bond Park. “I trust the world. I trust it too much.”
After learning about the gang’s activities she said she would no longer leaver her purse in a parked car.
These gangs originate in Florida, where police say they’ll rent an automobile and start their crime spree.
Captain Szymeczek says, they’ll work their way up the coast into Georgia, North Carolina and then swing into Virginia, Tennessee and then go back down south all in a matter of a couple of weeks.
“Their favorite locations to target are usually gyms and parks. The reason being, most people tend to leave their valuables in the car is in these locations and they know it,” said Szymeczek.
They’ll smash a car window to get to your stuff.
“It’s been very frustrating,” said gang victim Lindsey Bridgers. The sound of rattling glass shards in the driver’s side door of her van reminds her everyday of her encounter with the gang at the Cary Tennis Park.
“You work hard for your money and the last thing you want to do is have someone come and take it from you,” she said.
She lost over $3,500 when police say a suspect from the gang went to a self-checkout line at a grocery store in Cary and bought thousands in gift cards.
“They usually purchase large quantities of gift cards because gift cards are essentially cash-they are untraceable,” said Szymeczek.
The suspects are also virtually untraceable because they move around so much.
“I hesitate to assign percentages but it would be small that we could make a case because they’re not local they’re not in the state anymore,” said Szymeczek.
The spread of the gang has prompted local and federal police agencies to band together and create a national Felony Lane Gang Task force.
Among efforts of that task force is a public Facebook page where they post lots of surveillance photos of suspects in case anyone recognize any of them in their area so they can alert law enforcement.
Police say the best & simplest way to protect yourself— don’t leave anything of value in your car or trunk. Detectives say those gangs members actually set up surveillance in parking lots so they can see what you put in your trunk or leave in your vehicle and then they grab it as soon as you are out of sight.