Hillsborough deputies arrest ID theft gang members

5:06 PM, Jul 29, 2010   |    comments
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TAMPA, Florida -- Detectives say over the past couple of years, Hillsborough County has become a favorite target of identity thieves, a ring of them. They are made up of of criminals, prostitutes and drug users who have found the Tampa Bay area to be an easy target.

It's a big city, packed with tourists who police say are too often careless with their wallets and purses.

"They know people forget to lock their cars, or sometimes leave their things out in plain view," says Hillsborough Sheriff's spokesman Larry McKinnon.

But this week, the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office says it arrested five members of the so-called "Felony Lane" gang after they tried to get cash from a Bank of America branch on N. Dale Mabry in Carrollwood.

A bank clerk who spotted the stolen ID's and credit cards alerted law enforcement officials.

"She was really on her toes and did exactly what we ask them to do," said McKinnon.

Police say the Felony Lane gang got its name because the gang members tend to commit their felonies in the bank drive-thru lanes farthest from the bank teller.

It's the lane where seeing them is toughest, and a quick getaway is easiest.

"Hopefully it will deter other people if there are other people who wanna do that," said bank customer Joanne Stewart.

Robert Aguinaga, another bank customer using the very same drive-thru lane, agreed.

"I'm very excited, that's the biggest white collar crime they're committing right now," he said.

Detectives say they got a break in the case when a deputy on patrol Tuesday night acted on a hunch and spotted two cars in the parking lot of a Days Inn on E. Busch Boulevard. The cars matched the description of vehicles the suspects were known to drive.

Pictures: Mug Shot Photo Gallery of the Suspects

The five people arrested are 30-year-old Travis Bowles, 38-year-old Elizabeth Prather, 45-year-old Kathleen Mahoney, 33-year-old Rodney Robillard and 28-year-old Derriane Woods.

Investigators say they recovered close to 20 fake ID's, wigs and other disguises that the suspects used to alter their appearances.

They were being held at the Orient Road Jail in Tampa.

"These people are shooting financial bullets into these people's lives," said McKinnon. "So we want to make sure that they're caught and put behind bars."

Eric Glasser, 10 News

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