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Gang Of Smash & Grab Thieves Back In North Texas

COLLIN COUNTY (CBSDW.COM) - Police thought they'd run a gang of thieves out of North Texas, but now it looks like the crooks are back and mostly targeting women.

One Collin County parking lot has been a 'candy store' for a loose band of car thieves known as the Felony Lane Gang. They've reappeared after months on the run and Plano police say they've committed 20 smash and grabs in recent weeks.

When Laura Daniels brings her dog, Cooper, to the park she makes sure to hide her purse before locking up her vehicle and heading out. "I normally shove it under my seat," she said.

But hiding valuables didn't stop thieves just last weekend from backing into a parking space and breaking into the SUV next to her vehicle at Plano's Arbor Hills Nature Preserve.

"We just went to a park to do a little hiking and came back. The window was busted out and valuables missing," one victim said. The victim told CBS 11 News his wife's purse was stolen, even though it was hidden.

"This park had security cameras, so we really thought it was safe," he said.

Police believe the Felony Lane Gang has returned to after reportedly fleeing to Philadelphia.

Officer David Tilley, with the Plano Police Department, said, "We have what we believe is 159 incidents from last year."

The group that originated in Florida uses expensive rentals cars to cruise parks, daycare centers and sports facilities where women often won't carry a purse with them.

To avoid being a victim, Laura Daniels has a good idea. "Try to leave your purse at home. Just take your ID," she suggested.

The gang uses rental cars, stolen license plates and the thieves live in motels -- making them difficult to track down.

But police say if the public is vigilant about taking precautions the felony gang will move on.

(©2014 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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