FORT THOMAS, Ky. -- A nationwide criminal organization is back in the Tri-State, according to Fort Thomas police, and authorities need the public's help locating a pair of suspects.
Detective Derek Faught said his department believes a recent theft and two subsequent incidences of identity fraud are the work of the "Felony Lane Gang," a group of people who break into cars and use the items within to steal others' identities. Members of the Florida-based gang have been implicated in thefts in Ohio, Kentucky and Tennessee.
"They really know what they are doing," Fraught said. "I would love to shut them down."
The theft occurred near Highland Hills Dog Park April 26, Fraught said. A woman who had been walking her dog returned to find her car window broken and her wallet gone; less than 20 minutes later, her credit card had a brand-new $500 charge.
"The smash-and-grabs are not typical in our community, so when we see that, it kind of raises a red flag," he said.
Two weeks from then, police discovered a woman had attempted to cash a fraudulent check using the same victim's identity in Bowling Green, Kentucky. At that point, the possibility of Felony Lane Gang involvement entered the picture.
The affinity for bad checks is what gives the gang its name, Fraught said. A person passing a bad check traditionally uses the drive-through lane as far away from the teller's window as possible -- the eponymous "felony lane" -- to try to avoid detection.
The Fort Thomas police department reported the group targets vehicles driven by women in hopes the women will leave their purses in their cars. Locking the car isn't always an effective deterrent, but keeping valuables out of sight can reduce the risk of being targeted, he said.
"You are ruining peoples lives," said Angela Ricci, who was in Highland Hills Dog Park the day of the theft. "There is a lot of people out there working to try to make it, and then you have someone that steals your identity and takes basically everything from you. It's horrible."
If you have information regarding the identity or whereabouts of the suspects, Fort Thomas police ask you call Detective Derek Faught at 859-572-1238 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.