Darien Police often advise residents to lock all doors — especially in vehicles.

However, when it comes to “smash and grab” crimes, even that isn’t much of a deterrent from becoming a victim.

These instances, in which car windows are shattered and valuables are stolen  — seem to be popping up all over town.

In the last few weeks they have been reported in the parking lot of Holmes School, at the Bar Method gym, on the Post Road, and even at a cemetery while the driver was paying her respects to a loved one.

These crimes are often attributed to the Felony Lane Gang, said Darien Police Lt. Jeremiah Marron. The gang is a national network of thieves that target places where valuables are likely to be left behind in vehicles.

“They are going after checks and ID’s — cash is their main goal,” he said.

Marron said the gang members target places like fitness centers, daycare centers, parks, schools, anywhere purses are likely to be left behind.

The best way to avoid becoming a victim, Marron said, is if you are going somewhere that you can’t bring your purse with you, leave it at home, and just carry your essentials.

If you absolutely must leave your purse, lock it out of sight, possibly in the trunk.

Marron said the thieves are very skilled and are able to lurk in between cars to spot a possible vulnerable purse or valuable item.

“Rarely are they seen. People don’t even realize,” he said.

Locations targeted in Darien, in addition to the above, include Cherry Lawn, the Darien YMCA, Old Kings Highway Tennis Club, and local schools.

Darien Police investigators coordinate information with agencies all along the East coast to track this criminal activity in an attempt to prevent it and make arrests.

“Darien is just a blade of grass in this,” Marron said, referring to how far reaching nationally these crimes go.

Members will rent cars, go from town to town, and stay in local hotels. Once the purses are stolen, the checks and ID’s are handed off to another crew. Efforts are made to find those who look similar to the ID’s to be able to access the checks and banking.

The last intel sheet on the Felony Lane Gang listed up to 700 members. And they have stolen millions of dollars, Marron said.

Car break ins continue in Darien because “the bottom line is they have been successful here. We have unlocked car burglaries every single week.”

Marron’s advice?

“Do not be a victim in the first place. Lock your doors.  Lock it in the trunk or leave it at home if possible — especially checks,” he said.

This is not the first time the Felony Lane Gang has been active in Darien. In September 2015, a cooperative effort from the Darien Police Department and West Haven Police  led to the arrest of half a dozen Florida men linked to multiple car burglaries in Connecticut and nationwide. The men were  believed to be affiliates of the “Felony Lane Gang. In October 2015, they were suspected for a series of car break ins in Cherry Lawn Park.

A quick Google search pulls up news stories related to Felony Lane Gang from all over the country, including Florida, New Jersey, South Carolina, and New York.

editor@darientimes.com