FBI: Traveling thieves target women in Middle Tennessee

Two thieves arrested in Sumner County from "Felony Lane Gang"
Posted at 8:04 AM, Oct 16, 2019
and last updated 2019-10-16 20:40:28-04

HENDERSONVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — Two people were arrested overnight for breaking into cars at the Sumner County YMCA.

The break-ins happened Tuesday night just before the YMCA closed for the evening. According to Hendersonville police, the two suspects committed "Felony Lane Gang-style" burglaries. The style of crime is named as such because criminals often target women's purses and wallets, stealing credit cards or checks and withdrawing money from bank accounts.

The FBI tracks such crimes and notes the victims are largely female. The criminals travel from town to town in groups of four to eight people and hire women who are homeless or potentially drug addicts to impersonate the people whose IDs are taken.

According to FBI Special Agent Stephen Fogarty, the criminals focus on suburban areas where people feel more safe to leave valuables in their cars.

"They came up with this scheme, to travel the country, predominantly in rental cars, target daycare, fitness centers, parking lots, walking trails," said Fogarty.

Investigators said multiple cars from the YMCA parking lot were broken into and credit cards were stolen from the vehicles and used at a nearby business.

A Hendersonville officer spotted a vehicle of interest and the people inside the car matched the description of the suspected who were using a victim's card.

"We, in Hendersonville, are targeted by Felony Lane gang because we are kind of a target rich environment for what they're looking for," said Det. Sgt. Neal Harris with the Hendersonville Police.

Gerald Pendergrass and Latonye Hunter, both of Fort Lauderdale, Florida, were arrested and face multiple counts of vandalism and fraudulent use of credit cards. Both suspects have active warrants in other states.

"Felony Lane Gang" crews almost always come from the Fort Lauderdale area. The trend originated in that area some 15 years ago Fogarty said.

"The source is the purses and the pocket books left in the cars. If not for those, the scheme does not work. So, outside of locking your things inside your trunk, don't leave them in there," he said.

Harris said he believes there are still others in the area who are connected to the two suspects.