BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Authorities said three members of a Florida gang known to break into vehicles were arrested in Baton Rouge on Saturday.
The East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff's Office reported John Wright, 33, Tony Lester, 27, and Curtis Standley, 34, all of Pompano Beach, FL were booked into the East Baton Rouge Parish Prison on several charges. They are reportedly members of the "Felony Lane Gang."
According to the probable cause report, deputies were called out to the BREC soccer field on Burbank Drive on Saturday to investigate a vehicle burglary. The victim reportedly told investigators the break-in happened between 10:55 a.m. and 11:15 a.m. The driver's side window was shattered and the victim's purse was taken.
Deputies said they received another report of a similar break-in at the soccer field. Again, the victim's purse was taken. Investigators said the front passenger window of a car parked at the BREC Swamp Park on North Oak Hills Parkway was broken and another purse was stolen.
EBRSO reported getting a call from the Chase Bank on Corporate Boulevard about a woman trying to cash a stolen check, but then leaving behind the check and identification after the bank took too long. Deputies said the check belonged to one of the victims of the car break-ins and the ID was for another victim. Detectives added two stolen checks were written using that victim's ID.
The bank was able to give deputies a description of the suspect's car and it was pulled over in Port Allen by the West Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff's Office. Officials said Wright, Standley and Lester were inside the car. According to reports, one of the detectives determined the men are part of the "Felony Lane Gang" out of Fort Lauderdale and Pompano Beach.
Investigators said the gang's method of operation "M.O." is to shatter the glass of car windows and steal purses to get identification cards, credit cards and check books. The items are then used to cash stolen checks at banks. Investigators said the suspects typically try to cash checks for $1,500 to $2,000. Members have been arrested in Texas, Florida, Pennsylvania, Maine, Georgia, Arkansas and several other states.
"We've seen them target daycare's, funeral homes, health clubs. That's what they were doing in February, mainly health clubs," said Casey Rayborn Hicks, the spokesperson for the sheriff's office.
Hicks says one of the men, John Wright, was in Baton Rouge last month when they received calls from at least four women saying their cars were broken into and purses missing.
Those reports, between February 13-18, came in from Foxy's Health Club on Rhoda Drive, the YMCA on YMCA Plaza Drive, Starbucks at Perkins Rowe and the Women's Health Center on Jefferson Highway.
Detectives said the gang is also known to use rental cars to get around in. They added a search of the car the suspects were in turned up two chisel-like tools used to break windows. Detectives said they also found receipts showing money transfers to women in Florida and broken glass.
All three men were booked on the following charges:
Simple burglary (3 counts)
Theft (3 counts)
Criminal damage to property (3 counts)
Possession of burglary tools
Wright's bond was set at $190,000. Lester's bond was set at $145,000. No bond was set for Standley.
Deputies are also looking for the woman in disguise, who tried to make the withdrawal from the Chase Bank. Law enforcement from other states have reported the gang members sometimes use prostitutes to pretend they are the women in the stolen ID's.
The investigation is ongoing.