Smashed window in  car

Police are reporting that members of the "Felony Lane Gang" may be responsible for recent auto burglaries in Williamson County.

The burglary and identity theft ring, who is also known by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, is believed to have originated in South Florida more than a decade ago.

On Wednesday the Spring Hill Police Department announced that several recent auto burglaries in the city may be attributed to the group, who police say target vehicles in public places such as parks or gyms, often breaking the vehicle's windows and taking purses along with any identification, checks or credit cards contained inside of them.

It's unclear how large or organized the group is, but they've been the subject of nationwide criminal investigations for six years, and according to reporting by USA Today, more than 1,500 FLG members have been identified and arrested throughout the country.

SHPD Detective Michael Foster said in a phone call that the group has been known utilize multiple people in rental cars with out of state license plates to evade detection, as well as stealing license plates to help conceal their identities.

In addition, law enforcement reports that women involved in the thefts often wear wigs to look like victims in their identifications while using the stolen credit cards or checks at businesses including the banks of victims.

Detective Foster said that most recently auto burglaries on Jan. 2 and Jan. 5 are believed to be connected with the group, adding that they could have around 15 incidents in the area could be attributed to the group.

"It's a crime of opportunity," Detective Foster said. "They just go through an area and saturate it."

Spring Hill is not alone as vehicle break-ins as they have been reported across the county.

Brentwood Police Department's Assistant Chief Richard Hickey said that it's very likely that FLG members have been involved in at least some vehicle break-in's in Brentwood, based on the tactics and locations of some of the incidents such as break-ins at parks and recreation centers.

Hickey said that in November and December of 2020 the city saw 16 reported vehicle burglaries. 

On Tuesday, two vehicles in nearby Nolensville had their windows smashed and purses stolen by unknown persons.

NPD Police Chief Roddy Parker said that as far as he knows NPD has never arrested someone who is connected with the group, but that they could be involved in break-ins. 

Franklin Police Department Public Information Officer Lt. Charlie Warner said in an email that about a half dozen smash-and-grab style auto burglaries have been reported to FPD over the past week and a half.

Warner could not verify that these were attributed to FLG, but he said that they happened in locations like parks and fitness centers which fit's the group's pattern of crime.

"The target is almost always a purse left behind by someone going on a walk, into a dog park with their dog, or into the gym," Warner said.

In May of 2020, the United States Attorney's Office for the Western District of Arkansas announced the sentencing of two FLG members to more than five years in Federal prison for bank fraud.

In September of 2020 the FBI's Memphis Field Office reached out to the public for help in identifying a woman they believe is involved with the FLG in Middle Tennessee.

Detective Foster said that it's really up to citizens to help protect their property from members of FLG or others seeking a quick and easy payday.

"Put your stuff where it's going to be hidden in your car, whether it's in the trunk or if it's an SUV, in a hidden compartment or a compartment in the back, do that in a location before you get to where you'll be exiting your vehicle," Foster said. "Make yourself a hard target."

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