The victims of a spate of daytime, vehicle-related thefts in Germantown and Damascus may have been ensnared in a larger identity theft scheme, Montgomery County police said Wednesday.
Since mid-December, there have been several reports purses stolen from vehicles—windows smashed—at parks and community centers. Police said the thief or thieves have been using the stolen credit cards and checks before victims were able to cancel them.
Police said the incidents were characteristic of a larger crime scheme known as felony lane identity theft.
Felony lane thieves tend to be part of a well-organized group and sometimes go to a victim’s bank or credit union where they’ll use the victim’s photo ID—sometimes using a disguise to resemble the person—to make withdrawals from the victim’s bank account, according to police.
Police said the term "felony lane" comes from a suspect’s tendency to use the far lanes of a bank drive through. Felony lane thieves are also known to cross state lines to cash the checks, riding in rented vehicles.
Police are reminding residents to:
- Refrain from leaving valuables in plain sight inside of their vehicle.
- Cancel their bank cards and credit cards immediately in the event that they are stolen.
- Contact police if any suspicious activity is observed