BARTOW – Following weeks of investigations into an operation that got dubbed “Gone in 60 Seconds,” law enforcement agencies Central Florida have arrested three people for their involvement in a rash of car burglaries that also led to stolen identity problems, including in Polk County.
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.
Geffery Pierre, 31, of North Miami, and his accomplice, 22-year-old Brittany Leann Branch of Land O’Lakes, were both arrested this week in Bunnell in Flagler County. They’re suspected of burglarizing several cars in the Lake Wales area, then taking the stolen identification cards from the victims’ purses, and checks, and cashing them at local banks.
“They utilized a gold Oldsmobile, or a burgundy Ford Fusion, and were known to operate in the Miami area as well,” noted Carrie Eleazer, public information officer for the Polk County Sheriff’s Office. “Polk County law enforcement agencies have local charges for both of them.”
A third suspect, 28-year-old Kimberly “KK” Nicole Brogdon of Orlando, was arrested on Tuesday in Orange County. Eleazer said she has been “positively identified as a ‘felony lane casher’ in Augusta, Georgia, as well as in Lakeland and Winter Haven.”
Bank video surveillance photos captured images of Brogdon wearing wigs as she attempted to cash stolen checks at bank drive-through lanes in Polk County, Eleazer said.
Calling it “Gone in 60 Seconds,” 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, Eleazer noted. As a result, the Polk County Sheriff’s Office and local law enforcement agencies have been partnering with agencies across the state to find them.
“Our goal is to educate the public about the trend, and to issue a warning to people everywhere – do not leave your purses or personal belongings in your car,” Eleazer noted.
Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd noted that “There are reports all over the state about car windows being smashed, and women’s purses being taken – and then the stolen checks and ID’s being used the same day at local banks. These are not isolated incidents. There is a group of suspects working here in Polk County, and in other counties across the state, doing these types of crimes.”
Eleazer said the male suspects in the crime ring typically “scope out areas where women are known to leave their purses in their parked cars,” then give the stolen driver’s licenses to female accomplices, who “use wigs and disguises to take stolen checks to the farthest lane at a bank drive-through.”
This is where the term “felony lane” came from.
“They typically also fill up their cars with stolen credit cards,” she added.
Charges are now pending in Polk County against the three suspects arrested in neighboring counties.
“The investigation into these suspects’ criminal activity in Polk County is ongoing,” Eleazer said.
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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