The travellng Felony Lane Gang typically targets areas where purses or wallets are left unattended inside vehicles, such as fitness clubs, parks, and daycare centers, according to numerous reports. Once the items are stolen, the members of the gang then use the identification and banking information to steal large amounts of money.
The gang is responsible for numerous crimes throughout the Metro Detroit area and multiple states including Florida, Wisconsin, Texas and Utah, police say.
"They break into a lot of cars in a short period of time and quickly use credit cards or checks," said Royal Oak Police Chief Corrigan O'Donohue.
The Felony Lane name comes from the fact that members use the drive-up lane farthest from bank teller when withdrawing funds on stolen bank cards, O'Donohue said.
"It's called the 'felony lane' because it's the lane that is the most difficult for people in the bank to see," the chief said.
Royal Oak targeted by gang
On Oct. 10, a vehicle was broken into and a purse was stolen at Starr Jaycee Park. Two days later, police say they responded to three similar complaints at Red Run Golf Course.
Working with other jurisdictions, including the city of Livonia, the Royal Oak Criminal Investigations Division was able to identify possible suspects and then determine where they were located, O'Donohue said.
The information led to a lengthy vehicle pursuit in Ohio that led to the three arrests.
The chief pointed out that four larcenies is not a huge incident for police and it might have been overlooked in the past. But thanks to staffing increases, police now have a civilian in place to look at crimes in Royal Oak and how they relate to other communities.
"We're coordinating with other communities and working together," he said. "It's very good police work. It's something that we have not always done and something that smaller departments don't have the staff to do. It's a great asset."
Royal Oak residents are urged to be mindful of valuables left in cars. Click here for a list of tips.