Two members of the nationally-known ‘Felony Lane Gang’ were arrested last Tuesday in Morrow County.
Sheriff Steve Brennman said OnStar Services alerted his office December 8 a 2016 Chevrolet Suburban stolen from Enterprise Rentals in Orlando, FL was in Morrow County parked at the Shell station at Interstate 71 and State Route 95.
“OnStar shut the car down so it could not be started again,” Brenneman explained Monday. “Surveillance cameras showed the vehicle pulling in (to the station) and parking along an area without cameras. A woman came around the corner and went into the station.”
When the woman and her companion could not start the vehicle, they gathered up what was in the car, took off across State Route 95, went through the fields and the woods and started on a ‘cross country trek,’ as the sheriff put it.
Brenneman caught the woman in the field, and her companion was ahead of her and kept going. Brenneman and Deputy Brian Newsome pursued the male, who made it as far south as County Road 171, where a state trooper and Morrow County deputies apprehended him. A state patrol helicopter assisted in tracking the suspect, identified as Steven B. Charles, 30, of Miami, FL.
Charles had $8600 on his person, stuffed in pockets, socks and shoes. A bag Charles had been carrying was recovered the next day, which contained GPS and other devices.
Brenneman said Charles and his accomplice, Jotryce Trujillo, 39, of Winterpark, FL, are part of the Felony Lane Gang, a large group of thieves who specialize in robbing vehicles at daycares, parks, gyms, shopping centers — anywhere there are a lot of cars and trucks in a parking lot.
“They break into vehicles, take the IDs, and steal identities,” he explained. “They cash checks and perform other transactions with them.” Brenneman said Trujillo had a number of IDs from different states in her possession.
Published reports from other media sources say the gang has attracted the attention of the FBI, who have tracked their crimes from Florida to Maine, with pockets of it nationwide. They target women who leave purses in cars, smash the windows if needed, then takes the purse or wallet. They immediately try to cash any checks they find, heading to drive-through banks and using the farthest lane from the teller to avoid detection. The ‘last-lane’ trick is how the gang got their name.
Charles appeared in municipal court on December 10 on a charge of receiving stolen property. Trujillo, who allegedly rented the Suburban in Florida under an assumed identity, appeared in muni court Monday afternoon on the same charge. A bond of $10,000 was set for both and, as of Monday afternoon, they were still incarcerated in the Morrow County Correctional Facility.
“We have received calls from all over the country on these people,” Brenneman said, noting a Morrow County Detective is now part of the nationwide task force pursuing the group. The Felony Lane Gang is currently active in at least 34 states.
Reach Randa Wagner at 419-946-3010, ext. 1803 or on Twitter@MorrCoSentinel.