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Thursday, December 27, 2018

Alleged Felony Lane Gang Member Arrested in Highland Heights

A gang well-known along the East Coast has likely struck again in Highland Heights, shattering windows and stealing purses.

This time, at least one of the members was caught and arrested. 

The gang is a national crime group known as the "Felony Lane Gang," a name given to the group whose members use the farthest bank drive-thru lane to cash in stolen checks with stolen IDs.

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Police said they've targeted parks in areas like Fort Thomas previously and they're getting away with people's valuables.

According to arrest records, Michael Dominick Lotito, 42, of Margate, Florida is in custody at the Campbell County Detention Center and being held on a $10,000. He was arrested last month and was charged with theft of identity, criminal possession of a forged instrument in the first degree and receiving a stolen credit card. 

Highland Heights Police Chief, Bill Birkenhauer, confirmed that Lotito was arrested but said that his department is still trying to determine if or how the suspect is involved with the national gang. 

The Felony Lane Gang Task Force, which tracks the gang's activities nationwide and raises awareness of the syndicate's crime circle congratulated the Highland Heights Police Department on the arrest of Lotito. 

"Great work Highland Heights PD.

They referred Fort Thomas Matters to the department for further details, which Birkenhauer said were still under investigation. 

"(That group) is usually pretty helpful with these kinds of cases," said Chief Birkenhauer. "They are pretty spot-on." 

The Felony Lane Gang Task Force said thieves like to "target moms" who are dropping off kids, watching kids at events or going to the gym and to be hyper-vigilant when you are engaging on these activities. 

The Felony Lane Gang is notoriously tough to catch and has left victims in Fort Thomas feeling violated. 

"They go to local areas, set up shop for a couple of days and do surveillance. They're looking for female victims," Lt. Rich Whitford of Fort Thomas Police told Fort Thomas Matters last year.

Whitford said they'll pull up next to cars or walk to cars in lots at places such as zoos, parks or sporting events and use a small tool to shatter the window. It all happens in seconds. 

In May of this year, one criminal was caught on camera at a business on S. Fort Thomas Avenue in broad daylight. See the video here. 

He said they also actively try and recruit drug addicts or prostitutes to try and use the stolen items to go to a bank.

Police said you can do your part in preventing more crimes like this by hiding your valuables out of plain site. 

"Put it in your trunk. Keep it with you, or put it under the seat, somewhere someone who walks by a car, they do not see it," Whitford said.

This is especially important during the holiday season when gifts can sometimes be displayed within eyesight. 

Investigators said tens of millions of dollars is estimated stolen by the group nationwide.

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