NAPERVILLE, Ill. (CBS) — A roving band of thieves is at it again, striking seven times in as many days in Naperville, this time targeting moms who are dropping off their kids at daycare.
CBS 2’s Brad Edwards reports the same group has struck before in Naperville, and they’ve reared their head again, stealing women’s purses from parked cars by striking quickly while the women are going to daycare centers to drop off or pick up their kids.
The thieves are members of the “Felony Lane Gang,” an interstate group of at least 100 people.
Police said the gang generally targets women, usually while they’re visiting parks, fitness facilities, or daycare centers.
The roving robbers pounce when women leave their purses in their car, for example, while dropping off kids at daycare.
“I’ve already started warning the parents,” said Michelle Ginley, with Bright Start Child Care Learning Center in Naperville. “I was appalled. I was just disgusted.”
Although her daycare center was not one of the locations the thieves have hit, she’s warning parents anyway after learning of the string of smash-and-grab robberies in the area.
“Maybe running late, they don’t think about picking up their purses, because they have diaper bags and carrying children,” she said.
Police said the key for women is to take their purse with them whenever they park their car, even if it’s just for a couple minutes.
“So, if the woman is carrying a purse as she exits the vehicle, then they move on to the next target,” Naperville Police Sgt. Gregg Bell said.
Bright Start in Naperville already has eight cameras inside the daycare center so parents can see their kids from afar over the Internet. Ginley said they’re now considering cameras for the parking lot as well.
“The children are safe, they know that. Now, they’re safe in the parking lot,” she said.
The same gang struck in two Naperville parks last fall and has struck in Naperville dozens of times in the past year. Within days of the smash-and-grab robberies, the thieves typically go to the bank with the victims’ IDs, checkbooks, and banking information, in order to commit identity theft.
Police have said the robbers visit the drive-up lane that is furthest from the bank window, making it much harder for tellers to identify the suspects.
Four people were arrested for similar thefts in Crystal Lake last fall. All were from Florida, where the Felony Lane Gang is believed to be based.
Other similar cases have also been reported in Glenview.