Criminal gang believed to be behind car break-ins and thefts in Johnson County

A group of roving thieves known as the Felony Lane Gang appears responsible for a series of recent crimes in Johnson County.

For years, groups of criminals who collectively are known by the Lane Gang name have traveled across the country, breaking into vehicles and stealing wallets and purses.

Last weekend, multiple people were reportedly victims of the gang in Leawood and other parts of Johnson County.

Two vehicles were broken into last Saturday at Leawood City Park, according to police.

And Johnson County Park Police said they received several reports last Sunday about break-ins at Stoll and Shawnee Mission parks near off-leash dog areas.

Typically the criminals stake out parking lots outside swimming pools or day cares or fitness centers and look for women getting out of their cars and walking into the businesses without purses. They count on the habit of people who leave purses and wallets in their cars at such locations, according to law enforcement officials.

They break into the cars and steal the purses containing photo identification, checkbooks and credit cards.

Often, using the identity stolen from a victim, they will attempt to cash forged checks made out to that victim from the checkbook of a second victim.

The group was dubbed the Felony Lane Gang because they would usually use the outer lane of a bank drive-through to avoid being scrutinized by tellers and to provide an easy avenue of escape.

The original Felony Lane Gang originated in Florida, but Leawood Police Capt. Brad Robbins said criminals from other states have adopted their methods.

They seldom stay in a city for more than a few days and their transient nature makes them difficult to identity and catch, he said.

Just a few days before the crimes in Johnson County, similar break-ins were reported to police in St. Louis County, and a few days after the Johnson County break-ins, a number of cars were broken into at a swim meet in Wichita.

It is not known if the people who committed the Johnson County crimes were responsible, police said, but Robbins said they all had the same “M.O.”

Tony Rizzo: 816-234-4435, @trizzkc