MAHWAH, N.J. – An accused member of a nationwide car burglary crew dubbed the “Felony Lane Gang” used a variety of wigs to cash checks with driver's licenses and identification stolen during smash-in car burglaries, Mahwah authorities said Wednesday.
After two of her accomplices were taken into custody following a chase Monday that began in Allendale and ended in Upper Saddle River , Detective Eric Larson discovered that 24-year-old Brittany L. Ezell had been staying in a local hotel with them, Police Chief James Batelli told Daily Voice.
Larsen arrested Ezell – who, like the others, is from Fort Lauderale, FL – with help from detectives from the Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office and from Allendale, Upper Saddle River and Wyckoff police later that day, Batelli said.
In the hotel room, they found nine different wigs ( see photo, above ), he said.
The nationally notorious gang recently hit several locations in Bergen County – among them, the New York Sports Club in Mahwah. Their MO has been to smash vehicles windows and grab whatever valuables are in view – usually in under 30 seconds.
Victims have reported recent car burglaries at Lyndhurst, Mahwah, North Arlington, Oakland, Park Ridge, Ramsey, Ridgewood, Rutherford, Saddle Brook, Saddle River and Waldwick.
“Typically these groups are comprised of both men and women, with the men breaking into cars looking for credit cards, pocket books, checks, and driver's licenses,” Batelli said. “After stealing these items, they then utilize women who are molded to look like the victims they steal from by using wigs and frequently large sunglasses.
“Members then transport the females to local banks, where they will present the victim's driver's license and a stolen second-party check,” the chief said.
The term "felony lane" originated “because they would often use the farthest lane out from the drive-thru,” he said.
Batelli said Ezell was “seen at different drive-thru lanes at banks in Mahwah cashing stolen checks” from the victims “wearing different wigs to better match the victim's driver's license photo.”
Police charged Ezell with theft and forgery and sent her to the Bergen County Jail, where she was later released without bail pending a court hearing.
They were also trying to determine whether she was the same woman captured on surveillance video cashing checks at furthest-lane drive-thrus in Pennsylvania in September.
“The investigation is ongoing and additional complaints are anticipated,” Batelli said Wednesday.