Identity theft gang targets cars, fitness clubs in Chester, Delaware counties

MEDIA, Pa. - March 5, 2014

The gang has done a lot of its dirty work in Delaware and Chester counties in Pennsylvania, and it seems to have been one step ahead of the police.

The thieves target places like athletic clubs. When the victims go in to work out, the thieves break into vehicles and steal identification and checking account information.

They then go to the victim's bank. But they don't pull up to the closest teller in the drive-thru. They go to the far lane, sometimes referred to as the felony lane, making it hard for the teller to compare the stolen identification with the suspect trying to use it.

Photos were taken earlier this month at a TD Bank in Pennsauken, New Jersey. The two suspects were allegedly withdrawing cash after stealing a woman's pocketbook outside a Planet Fitness in Aston, Delaware County.

"It is the same gang. They break into the vehicles and then they recruit other people to go to various banks and withdraw money from the victim's accounts," explained Detective Steve Saunders.

Aston Police say they have four open cases connected to the duo.

The gang has stolen money all across Delaware and Chester Counties over the past couple of months.

"We believe it originated in Florida and moved its way up the east coast, and we have information all the way to the state of Maine," said Detective Saunders.

Police say the victim in Maine had $18,000 stolen from various banks in Delaware County.

"They get their banking information and get their check information to withdraw money. TD Bank has primarily been beat up the most by this thing," said Saunders.

Tracking down the suspects has been difficult because they use rental cars and change license plates.

Police say the Florida leaders of the Felony Lane Gang likely hire local recruits through prostitution and other criminal enterprises.

The message to potential victims: secure your personal information. If you need to keep it in a car, police suggest following this advice from an area resident:

"Put stuff in your trunk. If they can't see it, they aren't going to go digging for it because someone else is going to leave it out. So put it away," said Kacie Fry of Upper Chichester.

"I hope they get caught," said Melanie Kaehn of Phoenixville. "I hope there is something that can be done."

Police say in all the gang has stolen over $100,000 locally.

Anyone with information is asked to contact Aston Police.

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