ST. JOHNS COUNTY, Fla. – St. Johns County deputies are investigating two auto burglaries that they said both involved “Felony Lane Gang” tactics.
Both car burglaries occurred hours apart Wednesday. The first burglary happened at Veterans Park, and the second happened outside a gym on State Road 16.
“Went to pay for an extra drink for myself and I realized I have no money, my cards are gone, where’s my license,” explained Aaron Phelps, the victim of the incident outside the gym. “I freaked out a little bit.”
According to deputies, in the other incident, a woman was walking her dog at Veterans Park. She locked her car before she left, but she left her purse on the front seat.
“When she came back, the window was busted, the purse was gone,” said St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office spokesman Chuck Mulligan. “And then again, before she could even cancel the cards, two of them had been used for nearly $2,000 in purchases.”
The gym where the second incident took place is located about 21 miles away from Veterans Park.
“I unloaded my heavy bag so I could use it for some practice. The car was, maybe, unlocked for two minutes. It’s habitual for me to do that at the gym, so I guess someone was watching me. It was weird because it was like the person knew exactly right where my wallet was and it was put back as if it wasn’t even touched. It was so strange — kind of a shock, more angry, like wow,” Phelps said. “I work two jobs to make a living. I live alone. I need that money. They don’t realize the impact they have on people when they do things like that.”
Deputies said both incidents involved tactics used by the “Felony Lane Gang,” a notorious gang of organized burglars that watches people walk away from their vehicles in parking lots and then goes straight for those cars. St. Johns County deputies have issued past warnings about the group.
“(‘Felony Lane Gang’-style crimes) usually occur in the mornings or during the afternoon when you’re in a parking lot. In those cases, you need to remove that purse, bring it inside you. These individuals are watching you. They’re in the parking lots, surveying who is parking, looking for women especially, and they are looking to make sure you don’t have your purse in your hands because the next thing they’re doing is walking to your car window and looking at what’s inside,” Mulligan said. “They would get the driver’s licenses of the females they stole their purse from. They would find one of the women with them, put a wig on them, match the person as closely as they could, and they would go to a bank, write a check — you have your balance, so you know how much you have. They would drive the car through the farthest lane away — you know, the teller lane — as far away from the window as the could. That dubbed ‘Felony Lane.’ That’s where all the felons go through because they’re far enough away you can’t identify them.”
According to St. Johns County deputies, most of these types of incidents are carried out by crooks who are not from St. Johns County. Also, if you’re a victim, you’re urged to call law enforcement immediately and then call your bank and credit card companies.
At this point, it’s unclear whether the two incidents, both of which happened during daylight, are related. Both areas do not have surveillance video highlighting the parking lots where the burglaries happened.
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