KENNEBUNK – Police in Kennebunk have taken to social media to warn people against leaving valuables in their vehicles, lest they become victims of “smash-and-grab” theft.

Most recently, Kennebunk and other communities received reports of vehicle burglaries where the suspects specifically targeted women’s purses left behind in parked vehicles in public spaces, police said.

“This type of criminal behavior is often referred to as “Felony Lane Gang” activity,” police said in the social media posting. Police said the “Felony Lane Gang” is a group of thieves, based in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, who travel across the country stealing identities and checkbooks from unattended cars.

“With stolen checkbooks and driver’s licenses, the gang uses female accomplices to cash checks using the drive-through lane of banks,” police said. “The lane farthest from video cameras and tellers has been dubbed the “felony lane” because of the ease with which false identities can be used to cash checks.”

The group often targets locations where women are likely to leave their purses in their vehicles such as dog parks, fitness centers, tennis courts and walking trails.

“Please help us, help you and secure your vehicle at all times and do not leave valuables in plain view,” police said in the social media posting.

In late November, a Florida man was sentenced to 57 months in federal prison at U.S. District Court in Nashville, in connection with Felony Lane Gang activity, according to the U.S. Department of Justice. Melvin Brooks, 40, of Fort Lauderdale pleaded guilty in January 2022 to conspiracy to commit bank fraud, bank fraud, and aggravated identity theft totaling more than $30,000. Brooks and Bobbie Lynn Riley, 39, of Texas, used stolen license plates in their travels  to mask the identity of rental cars used during the commission of the crimes. Riley was charged in 2019 and sentenced to 22 months in prison in 2020 after pleading guilty to conspiracy and bank fraud.