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Rash of car break-ins at parks and daycares may be connected

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MURFREESBORO, TN (WSMV) -

Police departments in Middle Tennessee have an eye on Florida as they try to solve a crime spree involving several car break-ins at area parks, greenways and even daycare parking lots.

Victim Holly Drayton said she dropped her son off at the Gingerbread House Daycare on Sam Ridley Parkway in Smyrna on Aug. 19, but left the car doors unlocked.

"I came back out to my car, within less than two minutes, and my purse was gone, stolen out of my car," Drayton said.

In the days that followed, the thieves traveled to several banks in Hermitage, Donelson, Rivergate and the Goodlettsville area to cash checks worth hundreds of dollars on her account.

"It's been the worse eight or nine days I've had in a long time," Drayton said. "It's been absolutely miserable."

Drayton has had more than $6,000 stolen so far, but she wasn't alone. Another woman had her car broken into and purse stolen at another Smyrna daycare.

Authorities believe three people may be involved who were caught on surveillance video at a Murfreesboro store trying to use the stolen credit cards.

And police think one suspect was the same woman who was caught on camera wearing a wig, trying to cash checks at banks in Donelson and Hermitage.

A number of people have also had their cars broken into and purses stolen at Old Fort Park and Overall Street Greenway in Murfreesboro a week or so ago.

The victims met with a Murfreesboro police detective and an assistant chief Friday to compare notes about their cases.

"These are not petty criminals," Drayton said. "I feel like this is an actually gang of people in an operation that is very professional and know what they are doing."

Smyrna police confirm they believe these crimes are part of a much larger criminal operation, with connections to a so-called "Felony Lane Gang" out of Florida. This is a group of crooks who break into cars and steal credit cards, checks and IDs.

Murfreesboro police will also be looking into the possible connection.

"We're not going to rule anything out. It is still under investigation," said Murfreesboro police spokesman Kyle Evans.

If you feel you may be a victim of the recent rash of car break-ins, or if you have any information that would be helpful to police, call the Murfreesboro police Criminal Investigation Division at 615-849-2717 or Smyrna police at 615-459-6644.

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