Thieves targeting cars at parks and playgrounds - DC News FOX 5 DC WTTG

Thieves targeting cars at parks and playgrounds

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Police in Montgomery and Howard Counties are warning residents about a group of thieves that are targeting vehicles  at parks, gyms, and daycare centers and stealing valuables left inside.

There have been dozens of these smash and grab robberies in the area since March, and they've picked up recently.

Detectives are trying to determine if the notorious Felony Lane Gang that started in Florida is now pulling off smash and grabs robberies in our area.

Police say thieves have been prowling the parking lots of Centennial Park which borders Columbia and Ellicott City,  looking in car windows,smashing them and stealing purses, iPads, GPS devices. And they love credit cards.

Before the victim makes it around the lake, they've been to bank and drained their account.

" There is a group of people from Florida who may their living this way, stealing from cars at parks and then quickly heading to the banks to use the stolen credit cards they obtained," Mary Phelan of the Howard County Police Department says.

The Felony Lane Gang has struck in ten states or more.  They prefer to use the stolen credit cards at the outside lane at the bank, farthest away from the tellers to reduce chances of being identified.

Howard county police arrested two Florida men,  26 year old old James Blakey of Pompano Beach, and 22 year old Vincent Sands of Fort Lauderdale, in connection with some Centennial Park smash and grabs   They now want to know if they're part of the Felony Lane Gang.

" We are aware of that gang. We don't know yet if these two people are part of the gang, but that's part of what we're looking at,"Phelan says.

In the meantime, a warning from police. Don't park in isolated spots in the park and keep your valuables out of site in your vehicle

" I try to make sure I don't leave anything valuable in the car," Brian Schropp says. " And I keep my wallet on me."

And from now on.. so will Tonya White whose purse was on the front seat until she found out about the smash and grabs.

" You wouldn't think people would break in cars in this area, but I guess nowhere's safe. Better to be safe than sorry,"White says.

Police say those two arrests may not be the end of the gang in our area.

 There have been at least three more vehicle break-ins at Centennial Park since then.

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