The Rockford Park District Police are warning residents of an organized identity theft ring, known as the Felony Lane Gang, operating in the area.
“They will come and hit us for a weekend, and we won’t hear from them for a month or two,” said Detective Teri Johnson, of the Rockford Park District Police.
The group, originating from Florida, uses rental vehicles or cars with stolen license plates to stake out parking lots where cars are left unattended, typically at parks, gyms, or recreational facilities where people are known to leave their personal belongings behind, like their check books or IDs, then they’re off to the bank.
“They will write checks from one victim to another, and cash them for large amounts of money,” Det. Johnson said. “They are so far in the far lane that tellers can’t really see their faces.”
The group has already hit several area parks, but cases are reported all across the Stateline. While some arrests have been made, many of the criminals are still at large.
Local law enforcement officers are working with federal authorities to identify more suspects, but admit the crimes are hard to solve.
“The FBI is in on this, too,” said Lt. Johnson. “They are well aware of it. I’ve had contact with one of the special agents there and we are working with them, as well.”
While the Park District is investigating these cases of identity theft, Chief Theo Glover insists that the parks are still safe. He has increased patrols to deter crimes from occurring, but he says they’re always more that people can do.
“Practice storing valuables before you get to your location, and once you’re there, lock your vehicle up and go enjoy whatever your recreational choice is,” he said.
Janesville Police did arrest a suspected Felony Lane Gang member in March after a stolen check was cashed at a Chase bank branch. Anyone who falls victim to this scam should call police an notify their bank immediately.