WHITEHALL (KDKA) — A rash of smash and grab break-ins involving cars has police and local residents concerned.
Deena Su was recently at a soccer field near Whitehall Elementary School with her husband to watch their son play when she was told someone had smashed in the window of her SUV.
The vehicle was parked in an adjacent gravel parking lot.
Sure enough, her window was broken, and someone stole her purse, containing her credit cards, driver’s license and checkbook.
“Everything was in my purse, things that you wouldn’t want anyone else to have,” she said.
Su, an elementary school teacher, said her vehicle was locked.
She immediately notified Whitehall Police, and learned that two other cars in the same lot and been broken into the same day that her vehicle was targeted.
Whitehall Police posted an alert on their Facebook page, saying that several area communities have experienced daylight vehicle break ins.
Police think the crimes were committed by members of a group known as the Felony Lane Gang, described as an organized group of criminals who travel around the country, recruiting others in their fraud operation, and search out parked cars in public parking areas.
Once they get things like wallets and purses, they go to other cities, and sometimes states, to try to cash checks, and make bank withdrawals using the identities and checks they ripped off.
In the case of Deena Su, she was notified by a bank in Ohio that someone there was trying to cash one of her checks.
Su told KDKA-TV’s Ralph Iannotti, “I thought I had cancelled everything, my credit cards and checks. I won’t ever leave my purse or wallet in my car again.”