DECATUR — While a woman was inside the First Church of the Nazarene on Tuesday evening for "no more than five minutes," the passenger side window of the victim's car was smashed and her purse was stolen by two male suspects, police said.

Two of the victim's credit cards were used to purchase multiple gift cards valued at a little more than $1,200 at 6 p.m. at a nearby store on Illinois 48, detective Sgt. Chris Copeland of the Decatur Police Department said.

Similar burglaries involving thefts from vehicles happened at the Decatur Family YMCA and at St. Thomas the Apostle Catholic Church on the morning of Sunday Feb. 24. The third burglary was Wednesday Feb. 20, at the Decatur Athletic Club. 

Three women associated with a group known as the "Felony Lane Gang" were arrested in late February outside of Indianapolis with a rental vehicle police said contained stolen stolen credit cards, checkbooks, Social Security cards and identification cards. Photos of the items in the car's trunk showed connections to two, possibly all three, of these Decatur vehicle burglaries, police said.

Copeland said police suspect the vehicle burglary at the First Church of the Nazarene on Tuesday was perpetrated by members of the same gang. He said this incident remains under investigation.

Police have said these out-of-state groups often target locations where people may leave belongings in a vehicle, such as a gym parking lot while working out. The thieves smash their way into a vehicle and quickly attempt to use stolen credit or debit cards at nearby stores.

Police said valuable items, purses or gym bags should not be left in plain view in a vehicle. Police recommended items be placed in a trunk, locked glove box or some other place hidden from view if they must be left in the vehicle.

2019 mug shots from the Herald & Review

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Contact Kennedy Nolen at (217) 421-6985. 


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