Police are blaming a string of recent smash-and-grab car thefts on a group known as the “Felony Lane Gang," known for how they work and what they take from cars.
Ontario County Sheriff's deputies say the thieves travel up and down the Thruway. They pick specific targets, and very often the victims are women.
Investigators say they have tied the group to at least five car break-ins, targeting women at daycares and gyms - places where women might go inside for a short time and leave their purses in the car.
Shaina D'Aurizio was at a Planet Fitness off the Thruway in Victor earlier this month. On her way out, an employee told her someone broke into her car.
“I was shocked,” D’Aurizio said. “I'm in Victor. You don't really hear about that happening in places like that.”
She found her passenger window smashed. Her purse was gone.
“That was the first thing I looked for," she said. "That was shocking. They told me, 'Don't touch it.’ They were gonna come and fingerprint it, and investigate it.”
“They like to get ID’s and they'll conceal their identities to look very much like your drivers’ license picture," D’Aurizio said. "They'll go to the bank and try to withdraw your money. I was shocked because I had my school book with my Macbook in the back seat, and that wasn't taken, so they had just seen that my purse was in my front passenger seat and grabbed that.”
D’Aurizio says she was lucky she took her ID inside that night.
“It's definitely scary. It makes you think twice about leaving anything in your car," she said. "I was only in there 45 minutes, so clearly it can happen as quick as you're closing your door.”
Sheriff's deputies are urging women not to leave purses in their cars no matter where they go.