"Smash and Grab" Crime Rising Again

By Catherine Ross
|  Tuesday, Jul 1, 2014  |  Updated 5:44 PM CDT
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Plano Police are warning women that organized criminals targeting unattended purses left in vehicles appear to back in city limits. Since mid-April, police suspect 20 car break-ins may be tied to one group of thieves based in Florida often called the

Catherine Ross

Plano Police are warning women that organized criminals targeting unattended purses left in vehicles appear to back in city limits. Since mid-April, police suspect 20 car break-ins may be tied to one group of thieves based in Florida often called the "Felony Lane Gang."

Plano Police are reissuing a warning this week for women to keep their eyes and hands on their purses and wallets.

Last summer, the department arrested 16 people with ties to the so-called "Felony Lane Gang," a national group out of Florida suspected in organizing car break-ins across the country.

They operate, says Officer David Tilley, under certain patterns -- targeting unattended purses left by women in vehicles at day cares, dog parks, running trails, gyms and more.

In 2013, the department suspected 159 smash-and-grab burglaries were related to the Felony Lane Gang.

While the 2013 arrests made a "dent" in crime, Tilley says by mid-April of this year, the same patterns emerged.

Over the past few months, they suspect 20 cases may be related.

"We started noticing the same type of MO," Tilley said.

The department shared surveillance video with NBC 5 from Arbor Hills Nature Preserve in West Plano.

Tilley says this year, a majority of the suspected Felony Lane Gang-related break-ins have happened on the west side of town, but all citizens should be on alert.

This year, they've also noticed a new pattern.

The thieves are renting high-end vehicles, perhaps to blend in better in high-end neighborhoods.

"They're using Cadillacs, BMWs, Infinitis, Lincolns," said Tilley. He added that the thieves often steal license plates, attach them to rental cars, and discard the plates after using them in a crime.

He recommends if a car's plates go missing, that the owner makes an immediate report.

So far this year, none of those 20 cases have produced any arrests.

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