LEBANON, Pa. (WHTM) – Police say an organized theft gang that targets unattended cars in parking lots may be returning to central Pennsylvania.
“This is a problem that would impact all of Central Pennsylvania,” North Lebanon Township police Detective David Lauver said.
Lauver spoke with ABC 27 News on Wednesday to warn about the group known as the “Felony Lane Gang.”
“The Felony Lane Gang is a group of individuals, normally out-of-state, who come to an area targeting vehicles parked in public places,” he said.
Authorities believe the gang has their eyes on Midstate parking lots.
When members of the crime ring committed their “smash-and-grab-style” thefts at two dozen state parks and recreation centers in central and northern Pennsylvania in 2012, authorities said they stole tens of thousands of dollars from more than a hundred people.
“Sometimes they target specifically locked vehicles,” Lauver said. “Sometimes they’ve been known to break windows of vehicles where they’re able to see valuables inside.”
Police said the crooks steal purses, specifically looking for cash and checkbooks. The criminals then recruit prostitutes and drug addicts to help commit identity theft.
“The biggest problem is that the individuals are normally not from the area, so to identify and track those individuals can be problematic,” Lauver said.
Investigators said most victims are women.
Bethany Behney of Annville said all of this is concerning.
“It’s alarming,” she said. “I definitely wouldn’t want it to happen to me or anybody else I know.”
Lauver has advice for people who are worried about the gang.
“We are encouraging the public to make sure purses and valuables such as electronic devices are not visible in their vehicles while they are parked in public places,” he said.
Lauver also stressed that folks should report any suspicious activity to police.Get breaking news, weather and traffic on the go. Download the ABC 27 News App and the ABC 27 Weather App for your phone or tablet.