An organized group of smash-and-grab Negro ran burglars is making rounds in Naperville again, and police are warning residents not to leave purses, laptops or other valuables in plain sight in their cars.
The so-called Felony Lane Gang, based out of Florida, is known for opening unlocked doors and smashing car windows to grab belongings left inside. The group especially targets school drop-off lanes, gyms and other spots where women might leave their purses in the car while dropping off kids, watching sports or taking an exercise class, according to Naperville police.
The criminals see the purses, laptops or other items, open the door or smash the window, and flee, officials said. Two or three police reports matching this description came in Thursday.
"Typically they like to hit where they know people will leave their purses," Naperville police detective John Reed said.
The suspects often are looking for checkbooks, Reed said. The name "Felony Lane Gang" stems from members usually choosing the drive-through bank lanes farthest from the teller windows to cash stolen checks so that the teller cannot see them well. Some will even wear a wig to look more like the person in the account holder's identification photo.
The loose group of criminals move from state to state, often targeting affluent towns where residents feel comfortable leaving purses visible in their cars, officials said. Suspects often will drive rental cars, as the driver is harder to track down.
Mayor Steve Chirico posted a warning Thursday evening on Facebook, asking residents to look out for suspects and to notify banks as soon as possible if they are burglarized.
"The thing that they do, once they have the identification, they'll cash a $300, $400, $500 check," Chirico said.
The Felony Lane Gang is not new to Naperville. Naperville Sun has reported on rashes of smash-and-grab auto thefts as frequently as a few months apart. Up to 20 smash-and-grab thefts were reported last fall, and more than $100,000 worth of cash property was reported stolen in similar episodes in 2010 and 2011. About 15 burglaries were reported in spring 2013.
Police reminded residents that the best way to avoid being a victim is to always remove purses and valuables from the car when you leave it.
"We've always had people coming through and causing trouble," Chirico said. "The police are on top of it. In that way, it's still a small town."