Yes, Locking Your Car Doors is Still Best Practice

Close up of broken glass with black car interior in background.

Just running inside for a few minutes? There’s probably no need to take your purse with you or lock your vehicle, then … right?


The average thief needs only a few seconds to smash in a car window and steal your purse or wallet – even less if you do them the favor of leaving your door unlocked.

It’s a lesson residents of northeast Wisconsin learned the hard way recently when their personal belongings were stolen from their vehicles as part of a fraud ring known as the “Felony Lane Gang” (FLG). Targeting gyms, fitness centers, daycare facilities, and recreation areas where individuals – primarily women – are more likely to leave purses and wallets in their vehicle, the FLG often strikes so quickly that they can carry out the crime in broad daylight. 

Originating in South Florida with multiple jurisdictions scattered throughout the U.S., FLG members utilize stolen checks and IDs to withdraw large sums of money at multiple banks before victims have an opportunity to close their accounts. Their name is derived from their tendency to use the farthest drive-thru lanes at banks as it makes it easier to impersonate their victims without being visually identified.    

The moral of the story? Taking 15-20 extra seconds to grab your personal belongings and lock your doors could save you hours, days, or weeks of inconvenience spent canceling credit cards or getting a new license or social security card – and that’s if the thief doesn’t cash in on your bank account first. 

Protect yourself by taking these additional precautions:

  • Don’t leave valuables in the car. Personal belongings, such as your purse/wallet, phone or laptop, checkbook, medical paperwork, and spare change are magnets for thieves. If you could encounter financial loss or have your identity compromised by an item ending up in the wrong hands, don’t leave it in your vehicle. Even diaper bags or empty backpacks could be enticing to a criminal, so place them under the seat when possible. 

  • Lock your doors. As unfortunate as it is to admit, gone are the days of trusting everyone to be neighborly and do the right thing. Even a daycare parking lot surrounded by trusted families, children, and educators can become a hotspot for theft. Take a few extra seconds to lock up your vehicle.

  • Keep your Social Security card at home. Never carry around your Social Security card or any document that shows your SSN. Memorize the number, and leave it in a safe place at home. 

  • Take immediate action. If your purse/wallet is lost or stolen, contact your financial institution right away to lock down your accounts. You should also contact your credit card companies to freeze your cards and order new ones. 

  • Add passwords to your bank accounts. This provides your financial institution with a very specific way to identify you and will make a fraudster’s efforts to impersonate you significantly more challenging. 


If you think you have been the victim of fraud, contact us immediately so we can take steps to protect your accounts.

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