A 32-year-old woman from Florida has been identified as the suspect in a series of identity theft and check fraud cases in Pierce County. She was wanted after a woman's purse was stolen during a car prowl at a gym in Edgewood. The suspect cashed $6,000 worth of checks at six different banks. She has not been officially charged yet in the case so her name is being withheld. Detectives believe she is connected to the notorious “Felony Lane Gang.”
"What they’ll do is break into cars when purses and wallets are left out, take people’s ID, disguise the girls, go through banks and before people realize they’re victims, some of these people have ripped off thousands of dollars pretending to be that person and then back on the car or airplane to Pennsylvania or Florida or to another state," said Det. Ed Troyer with the Pierce County Sheriff's Department.
The crime ring gets its name because members use the bank drive-through lane that’s the farthest from the teller when they cash stolen checks so they can’t be seen as clearly. The group of thieves originated in south Florida and has been operating for the past several years all over the country. They travel the country in rental vehicles and target gyms, parks, daycare centers, and sporting events where women may leave purses in their vehicles.
Pierce County deputies received a tip from a caller who recognized the woman after they saw a Tacoma Weekly web story with the suspect's photos posted on the Felony Lane Gang Task Force Facebook page. Deputies learned the suspect had recently been arrested in Hatfield Township, PA for a very large quantity of fraud and identity theft related charges. She is being held on $250,000 bail. Pierce County Sheriff’s deputies then contacted law enforcement in Pennsylvania who interviewed her on April 7. She told detectives she and two other male suspects drove from Florida to Washington in January for the purpose of committing theft and fraud. The suspects were traveling in a rental car, spent three days in Washington then flew from Portland back to Florida. More information to come once she is officially charged.