Traveling crime crew targeting credit cards, checkbooks in cars

Pesky crime trend makes comeback in Bay

HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, Fla. — Law enforcement is passing along a crime alert in the Bay. A pesky crime trend has made a comeback in Hillsborough County. One mistake can leave your bank accounts drained, in a matter of minutes.

Indira Acosta was in the gym trying to get a quick workout, but sweat from hard-work turned to a sweat of panic as alerts started dinging her phone.

“Bank of America, the alert from Wells Fargo, the alert from Credit One, my alert from Capital One, the alert from Discover: all of them," she said.

Acosta denied purchase after purchase made from her cards. There was a $1,500 charge at Target and nearly $470 at Walgreens. All of the charges came in while she was still inside the gym.

She quickly ran outside and found her car window smashed. The burglars took $600 in cash and her credit cards. All of it was gone and spent in less than half an hour. Even worse, Acosta says another woman in the parking lot had the same thing happen to her.

“Gyms, rec centers are a big target for them, shopping centers with big parking lots," described Detective Gabriel Aquino. 

He investigates these crimes of opportunity. He says this week they’ve had at least five of these cases with most centered around the University Mall area.

According to HCSO, the culprits are likely a crew of the Felony Lane Gang who make frequent rounds across the state. They’re called that because while using stolen IDs they often get in the farthest lane of a bank drive-thru, where a clerk can’t see them too well and drain the victim's accounts.

The agency says in a month a small crew can get away with $40,000 in property and cash from fraudulent checks.

“They are making our lives miserable so I hope they get caught and get a good sentence," said Acosta.

But detective Aquino says catching them is hard since they move so often. The best advice: if you remember to do just one thing before leaving your car, put your valuables in the trunk. Those extra seconds will save you hours of getting your windows replaced and canceling your cards.

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