Cops: Gang of thieves strike at Oakland daycare center

Mike Martindale
The Detroit News

Independence Township — The Oakland County Sheriff’s Office released video Monday of an incident linked to the Felony Lane Gang whose members hit cars at day care centers and schools.

“They’re hammering the Metro Detroit area right now,” said Oakland County Sheriff Michael Bouchard, who described the gang as part of a national organized criminal activity that target school parking lots and day care centers because parents often leave their purses inside the vehicle while escorting their child inside the building.

“They spot and target a victim, move in and then speed away.”

The most recent incident linked to the group was last Friday at the Learning Experience Daycare Center in the 7000 block of Sashabaw Road. Shortly after 7 a.m. police were called when the victim said she had taken her child into the day care center and was only away from her car for about 10 minutes. When she returned she found someone had broken out the passenger side window of her vehicle, stolen her purse and fled the area.

A center’s surveillance video filmed a man, believe to be in his late 20s, approach the vehicle and then leave the area in a silver 2015 or 2016 Hyundai Elantra. A “spring loaded punch” — like a tool used by firefighters in car accidents emergencies — is believed to have been used to break the windows.

The woman’s purse, and several other emptied purses, was found later in the day at Kensington Metropark.

It is the most recent in a series of hundreds of similar incidents over the past couple of months reported in Auburn Hills, Orion Township and West Bloomfield in which daycare centers and schools have apparently been staked out by suspects who then approach unoccupied vehicles and steal purses or other valuables. Other thefts have been reported in adjacent counties, investigators said.

The suspects are believed to be using rental cars in the thefts, according to the sheriff’s office.

The suspects are called the Felony Lane Gang because they often use the outside drive-thru bank line to cash stolen checks, often wearing disguises in an effort to resemble the people whose checks they are cashing along with stolen photo identification.

Anyone with information about the suspects is asked to call the sheriff’s tip line at (888) TURN-1-IN.

(248) 338-0319