A Middle Tennessee woman is warning others of leaving their purses and personal belongings in the car after her vehicle was broken into and her purse stolen.
On Saturday, August 18, Stephanie Bost parked her SUV near the entrance of the pool at the Jimmy Floyd Center in Lebanon.
A few hours later, pool management told Bost her car had been broken into.
"I could see the glass everywhere and my back window where my purse was hidden had been bashed in and my purse was gone," Bost told Nashville's News 2.
However, the thieves stole much more than the Wilson County woman's purse.
"They have my license [and] my social security number," Bost said.
Since the theft, Bost has learned her identity had been stolen and she was a victim of an organized crime, committed by the so-called "felony lane gang."
"They run in small groups all over the country, seven or eight at a time and they're named that [the felony lane gang] because of the way that they ‘smash and grab' purses and they're known for [stealing and using] checks and debit cards and when they get the cash [from the checks and credit cards] they go through the furthest lane in the drive through because apparently it has the least amount of surveillance," Bost explained.
Bost believed the thieves fraudulently cashed about 15 checks about $1,000 each. In addition, the gang retrieved her account information by using her ID at the bank and her name to cash other stolen checks.
Most alarming, Bost says the crime ring targets women.
"They target places we [women] are most likely to leave our purses such as country clubs, recreation centers, I've heard day cares even," she continued.
As Bost goes through the overwhelming process of reclaiming her identity, she is warning other women.
She said she advises women make copies of all of the contents in their wallets and to hide their purses in the trunk, before arriving at their destination, in the event that thieves are watching.
Bost's cases have now been handed over to a new investigative unit to combat the increase in identity theft and related crimes in Tennessee.
The newly formed Identity Crimes Unit is comprised of employees from three divisions of the department including Tennessee Highway Patrol, Office of Homeland Security and Driver Services Division.