Detectives from the 5th District Investigative Section are investigating a series of daytime thefts from vehicles that have been occurring in the Damascus and Germantown areas since mid-December. In all of the incidents, the victims have left a purse in plain view within the vehicle while the vehicle was parked at a park, dog park, community center, or similar establishment. The suspect(s) have smashed a window to enter the vehicle and stolen the purse which oftentimes contains bank cards, checks, and/or credit cards. Most of the victims have then had their identity used to cash stolen checks throughout several Maryland counties.
Ongoing investigation into these thefts has revealed that these incidents are part of a larger crime scheme, known as Felony Lane Identity Theft. Felony Lane Identity Theft describes theft crimes that are initiated when a purse containing a victim’s identification, credit cards, and personal checks is stolen from a vehicle parked at a park, community center, etc. After the purse is stolen, the suspect uses the stolen credit cards and checks before the victim is able to cancel them.
Characteristics of “Felony Lane Identity Theft”:
- Suspect(s) are often part of a well-organized group that travels throughout the United States committing this type of theft.
- Suspect(s) oftentimes go to the victim’s bank or credit union and use the victim’s photo identification and personal checks to make withdrawals from the victim’s bank account.
- Suspect(s) often cross county and state lines in order to cash the checks.
- Suspect(s) may use a disguise in order to resemble the photo on the victim’s identification.
- Suspect(s) will use the farthest lane of the drive-through at the bank in order to cash the checks. The term “Felony Lane” is derived from the suspects’ tendency to use these far lanes of the drive-through.
- Suspect(s) will oftentimes use rented vehicles to complete the transactions in order to prevent tracking by vehicle license plate number.
In addition to the incidents that have occurred in the 5th District, detectives are aware that these incidents have been occurring throughout Montgomery County as well as throughout the DC Metro area.
With this in mind, police are reminding residents to:
- Refrain from leaving valuables in plain sight inside of their vehicle.
- Cancel their bank cards and credit cards immediately in the event that they are stolen.
- Contact police if any suspicious activity is observed in areas such as parks, dog parks, community centers, etc.
Tonight, the two 17-year-old girls from Silver Spring who had not made contact with their families since March 8, were located. Diamond Marie Thaggard and Ashley Hunter were found unharmed in Washington D.C.
Investigating detectives from the 3rd District and the families of the teens express their appreciation to all those who helped publicize this missing persons case.
Detectives from the Montgomery County Police Family Crimes Division are asking the public for help in locating a teenager and her child missing from Silver Spring.
Franscheska Leon, age 17, and her child, Johnathan Deaz, age 2, of the 2900 block of Marlow Road in Silver Spring were last seen on February 21.
Leon is described as an Hispanic female (light complexion) with brown eyes and long black hair. She is 5 feet 3 inches tall and weighs approximately 155 pounds. She has pierced cheeks, a pierced upper lip, and pierced ears. Deaz is described as an Hispanic male (light complexion) with brown eyes and and black hair. He is 2 feet 9 inches tall and weighs approximately 40 pounds.
Police and family are concerned because Leon and Deaz have not been in contact with family since they left home.
Anyone who has information in reference to Franscheska Leon and Johnathan Deaz or their whereabouts is asked to contact the Montgomery County Police non-emergency number, 301-279-8000. Callers may remain anonymous.
Montgomery County Police would like to remind those celebrating this holiday weekend to make a plan before you party! Be responsible about your alcohol intake. Designate a sober driver or contact a taxi at the end of the night to make sure you arrive home safely.
In 2011, nearly one third of traffic fatalities involved a drunk driver. That’s an average of one drunk driving-related fatality every 53 minutes.
Law enforcement agencies throughout the region will be conducting drunk-driving prevention enforcement this St. Patrick’s Day weekend. MCP, in conjunction with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), as part of Checkpoint Strikeforce, will have extra patrols specifically targeting impaired driving.
Enforcement will begin Friday, March 15 through the early morning hours of Monday, March 18. MCP will be using a combination of saturation patrols as well as sobriety checkpoints throughout the County to help get impaired drivers off the road. Be a lucky one this weekend – Don’t Drive Drunk!
Detectives from the 5th District Investigative Section are investigating an incident involving a utility scam in Gaithersburg.
On March 8, at approximately 2:43 p.m., officers responded to an address in the unit block of Highland Avenue for the report of a burglary. The 93-year-old female victim told police that she saw a male suspect on her front porch wearing a white hard hat and a black jacket with an unknown emblem on the front. The suspect claimed to work for the water company and that there had been a gas leak that had affected the water in the area. The suspect and victim then went to the basement of the residence to check the main valve. While there, the victim was distracted and the suspect, along with a second suspect who had entered while the others were downstairs, removed items of value from the house and left the scene.
Information provided by the victim and her neighbors led to the following descriptions:
Suspect #1 is described as a Hispanic male, 5-08 tall, 145 pounds, approximately 30 years old.
Suspect #2 is described as a Hispanic male, 6-00 tall, 180-200 pounds, approximately 30 years old.
The vehicle involved in this incident is described as an older model small to mid-size sedan with flat black paint and dark tinted windows.
Police warn residents to be aware that all utility workers will carry proper identification. If a worker is unable to provide proper identification, do not allow him or her to enter your residence. Additionally, you may check with your utility companies to determine whether the company has workers in your area before allowing the worker to enter your home.
Detectives are asking that anyone with information about this incident or the suspect(s) involved to please contact the 5th District Investigative Section at 240-773-6237, or the non-emergency line at 301-279-8000. Those who wish to remain anonymous may call Crime Solvers of Montgomery County toll-free at 1-866-411-TIPS (8477) or enter a tip online. Crime Solvers will pay a cash reward of up to $10,000 for information provided to them that leads to an arrest and/or indictment for this felony crime.