Since Nov. 1, serial purse snatching has been occurring in Plano, mostly at dog parks and nature parks, the Plano police reported in a Dec. 4 Facebook post.
Eight incidents have been reported occurring at several different times and locations across the city, leading Plano police to post a warning about it Friday on Facebook. According to Plano police, those locations and time frames include:
- Jack Carter Dog Park, 11:15 a.m. to 11:55 a.m., Nov. 3; 9:06 a.m. to 10:15 a.m. Nov. 17, 11:55 a.m.; and 4 p.m. to 4:50 p.m. Nov. 20
- Windhaven Park, 3 p.m. to 3:39 p.m. Nov. 4
- Willow Creek Park, 12:10 p.m. Nov. 12
- Arbor Hills Nature Preserve, 1:50 p.m. to 5:40 p.m. Nov. 19; and 4:15 p.m. to 5:40 p.m. Nov. 21
- Courses at Watters Creek, 1:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. Nov. 21
“This is nothing new but in the past, it has been associated with a group out of Florida, the Felony Lane Gang,” Plano police spokesperson David Tilley wrote in Dec. 7 email to Local Profile.
The Felony Lane Gang has been a “longtime thorn” in law enforcement’s side. Originating in Florida, the gang has been preying on victims across the country for about 10 years now, snatching purses from vehicles to use stolen IDs and credit cards for bogus check cashing and shopping sprees.
But they’re not sophisticated when it comes to breaking into the vehicles, according to law enforcement officials. They’ve been known to employ the “smash and grab” technique, which simply requires breaking the car window and grabbing the purse. They also wear wigs to hide their identities and use the furthest drive-through lane away from bank tellers to cash the fraudulent checks.
In fact, federal law enforcement officials created a special task force — The Felony Lane Gang Task Force — to bring down the gang. Task force members keep track of the crimes allegedly associated with the gang on the Felony Lane Gang Task Force Facebook page. They claim the Felony Lane Gang has multiple groups working in parking lots across the country. More than 1,500 members have been identified and arrested over the last five years.
The Felony Lane Gang Task Force asks that people spread the message about the task force’s Facebook page: “Please ensure anyone who has children check this page, understand what these criminals are watching for and learn how to prevent becoming a victim. Stay Alert and be able to provide timely information to law enforcement in hopes of catching these crooks and deterring future felony lane operations.”
But Officer Tilley says he doesn’t believe the Felony Lane Gang is behind the Plano serial purse snatching that has been occurring for more than a month now because they are happening at dog parks and nature parks. “Most men know that women usually take their purses wherever they go; therefore, when a bad guy watches a female exit her vehicle without a purse, they anticipate it’s probably inside the vehicle,” he wrote. “Our goal is to educate those that plan on going to these locations to leave their valuables they can’t carry on their person home.”
“We are not sure if they (the eight incidents) are related at this time or not,” he added in a follow-up email.
However, if you have to leave your valuables in your car, Tilley recommends: “If there is no other choice but to leave it, remove credit cards and other identifiable info and hide the purse BEFORE arriving at the destination. Some of the bad guys in the past watch the ladies place the purses in the trunks after they get there and many cars offer access to the trunk from inside the passenger compartments of the vehicle.”