CARY, N.C. (WNCN) – A series of car break-ins in Cary has police on alert after victims had charges made to their credit cards within minutes of the thefts.
Broken glass on the ground in the parking lot at Cary Tennis Park is evidence of what happened.
The car break-ins fall in a familiar pattern for a gang of traveling criminals the police called the Felony Lane Gang.
The rear door window of Lauren Riley’s SUV is now scattered across her backseat.
What’s not left on the seats is her purse, which she left in her vehicle while she was inside the facility.
“We were probably only in there 20 minutes and I got an alert on my phone there was a charge at Harris Teeter for $500,” Riley said.
But, that charge made at the nearby supermarket wasn’t the only hit she took.
“My husband called me and said, ‘There was another charge for MasterCard on both your cards,’” she said.
“There was an announcement out about cars being broken into in the parking lot,” said Gail Lisson. “When someone said one car was a white SUV, I panicked and came over here to see it was my car broken into as well as three others.”
Riley wasn’t the only victim.
Lisson lost a checkbook, but had taken her wallet with her.
“It was basically an empty purse with a lot of personal items, so I got lucky, but I really wish I [hadn’t] left a purse in the car, that was very tempting.”
The break-ins follow a pattern used by traveling thieves consumer investigator Steve Sbraccia recently told you about.
The thieves are wanted by the FBI and by scores of local law enforcement.
“Their favorite locations to target at gyms and parks, the reason being most people tend to leave their valuables in the car at these locations and they know it,” explained Capt. John Szymeczek of the Cary police.
Although police were able to recover fingerprints in this case and have surveillance photos of these thieves in action, they’re hard to catch because police say the Florida based criminals work a circuit up the coast into Georgia, North Carolina, Virginia, Tennessee and then go back down south all in a matter of a couple of weeks.
Since they’re so hard to catch, one of the victims suggested warnings be placed in lots like the one at Cary Tennis Park.
“I definitely think there needs to be some signs out here,” said Riley. “The town of Cary needs to get on that.”
Police say this gang actually sets up surveillance in parking lots, so they can see what you put in your trunk or what you leave in your vehicle and then they grab it as soon as you’re out of sight.
The best advice is don’t leave anything in your car.