DAVENPORT — For months now, Polk County Sheriff’s detectives have been taking numerous reports about a possible gang of thieves who target gyms that women work out at.
Detectives are now asking for the public’s help finding three people who are believed to be connected to a similar type of theft in the Davenport area.
The case opened on Wednesday, Oct. 10 around 6:30 p.m. As in previous cases, the suspects broke into a car parked at Anytime Fitness, a gym at 7982 Lake Wilson Road in Davenport area. The driver’s purse was stolen from the vecile.
Fifteen minutes later, a report came into the sheriff’s office that a woman was seen — and her image captured on video surveillance cameras — using the victim’s credit cards from the stolen purse to purchase two gift cards from a Wal Mart superstore in Kissimmee.
Four days later, on Sunday, Oct. 14 around 9 a.m., two men whose images also got captured on video surveillance were seen using the gift cards purchased with the stolen credit card.
The Polk County Sheriff’s Office released images of the three suspects to the media in the hope that someone recognizes any of the people in the photos and provides information about them to detectives.
Anyone with information on the identity of the suspects can call Detective Scott Maginn at 863-292-3355 or contact Heartland Crime Stoppers at 1-800-226-TIPS. If a tip made to Crime Stoppers leads to an arrest, the call can be eligible for a cash reward of up to $1,000.
The sheriff’s office as spent months working on an operation that got dubbed “Gone in 60 Seconds,” involving a rash of car burglaries that also led to stolen identity problems.
The Polk County Sheriff’s Office said it was part of an ongoing statewide trend, known to law enforcement agencies as “Felony Lane,” involving a group of suspects who target cars parked at places that women frequent.
The sheriff’s office says the thieves were targeting establishments where women will sometimes leave their purses in their cars. Those locations include their gym, daycare centers, ballfields, jogging trails, dog parks, Zumba classes, churches, hospitals, and places where their children play.
Leaving their purses in the car, the sheriff’s office warned, has been a temptation to thieves that have created serious long term problems for the victims. The thieves have pulled their car up next to another parked vehicle, looked inside for a purse left behind, punched a hole in the victim’s car window, grabbed the purse, then headed to the nearest bank drive-through window to cash those stolen checks.
The thieves have are operating all over Florida.
The crime ring typically scopes out areas where women are known to leave their purses in their parked cars.
Anyone with information about these three suspects or this crime trend is encouraged to call the Polk County Sheriff’s Office at 863-298-6200.
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