HENDERSONVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – Middle Tennessee law officers are very familiar with the Felony Lane Gang.
It’s a loosely organized crime syndicate out of Florida whose members travel all over the country, including Middle Tennessee, breaking into cars and stealing valuables.
The thieves are coordinated and calculated as they stake out parking lots, especially workout clubs, watching people who walk in without their valuables.
Then the group strikes, breaking the car windows and taking purses, laptops and other valuable items.
The group will often come to Middle Tennessee targeting one city after another, moving down the highway before local law enforcement operations even know who hit them.
On Wednesday morning at around 10 a.m., the gang hit in Hendersonville.
Video shows the group driving two rental cars.
The group waits and watches. When members enter the facility without their hand bags or purses, the group checks the person’s vehicle to see if they left their valuables in the car.
If they see valuables, gang members break the glass.
Video shows that happening as two members of the gang break windows of four cars at the same time, stealing four pocket books left in the cars.
As soon as the damage reports begin coming in, Hendersonville patrol begin taking reports. It’s quickly deduced that this could be the work of the Felony Lane Gang.
“The initial response by patrol is of the utmost importance. Our guys are trained. We know this pattern very well, and they are out there beating the bushes trying to find video in that location so we can quickly identify the vehicles that were used,” Commander Scott Ryan of the Hendersonville Police Department said.
Not long after the break ins, Hendersonville Police secured video from the Goodlettsville Kroger.
It shows one of the alleged gang members, Melinda Gonzalez, leaving the store after reportedly trying to use one of the stolen credit cards taken from the workout facility.
Police say Gonzalez was traveling with three other men identified as Richard Baker, Jarvis Scott and Hector Cruz III.
“Once we are able to identify the vehicles used, and identify them as rental cars, we were able to track one of those vehicles,” Ryan said.
Ryan says police use a multitude of techniques to identify the cars including license plate recognition (LPR), Airport Police, rental car agencies, and not to mention surrounding police agencies across Middle Tennessee.
While Hendersonville police worked to solve the fitness center auto break ins, the gang kept moving, committing more crimes.
By 2 p.m. Brentwood police responded to a car break in at the Brentwood YMCA.
It’s not long after that Hendersonville police, now tracking one of the rental cars, determined that it has recently been to Brentwood.
“Once we learned it was in Brentwood, we are on the phone with Brentwood letting them know what is going on. And guess what? they just took a report for a vehicle burglary. Brentwood then joins the posse and here we go down I-65, trying to find the bad guys from there.”
News 2 has learned that at one point, Hendersonville, Brentwood and even Spring Hill worked to track the Felony Lane Gang suspects.
By 4 p.m., six hours after the first break in, Hendersonville police enter Columbia. It’s here that Columbia police working with Hendersonville officers picked up the surveillance on the gang members and tracked them for Hendersonville detectives.
Once the gang members stopped, Columbia officers sent the location to Hendersonville police, whose officers swooped in and made the take down on all four suspects.
“In the Mid State we have learned to work well with other agencies and our federal partners to get on these and act with urgency. And this is how we catch them when we catch them, because we are acting with urgency. All of our Mid State partners when they get these phone calls, they are like, ‘Oh heck, I’m about to have six more crimes pop up in our jurisdiction so they are getting on board immediately and, here we go, the chase is on.'”
All four suspects are in the Sumner County Jail and are charged with burglary, theft and vandalism. Their bonds range from $100,00 to $195,000.
“We believe these are the same bad guys. It’s a great example of what the technology of LPR’s can do for us, coupled with all the law enforcement agencies in Middle Tennessee working together. These bad guys went through at least six jurisdictions and we had help at every corner. Hendersonville P.D. does a fantastic job,” Assistant Chief Richard Hickey told News 2.