On August 1, 2012, three cars that were parked in the parking lot of the Gold's Gym located at 5636 Cypress Gardens Blvd in Winter Haven were broken into, and women's purses were stolen from within them.
This week, detectives with the Orlando Police Department positively identified 24-year-old Ingram Harper (DOB 9/27/1987) of Taramac, Florida, through fingerprint analysis as a suspect in a check theft case they were working. Further investigation revealed that their case was linked to the aforementioned Polk County theft case. OPD detectives contacted PCSO detectives, and Harper was then positively identified as the Winter Haven Gold's Gym purse theft/check theft suspect. PCSO detectives issued a warrant for his arrest.
On Friday, September 7, 2012, Ingram Harper was arrested by the Florida Highway Patrol in Orlando after troopers pulled Harper over and discovered he had a Polk County Warrant for his arrest.
Harper is currently in the Orange County Jail on 3 counts Burglary, 3 counts Theft, and Possession of Burglary Tools. Polk County detectives responded to Orange County to interview Harper about these crimes and any co-defendants but he refused to cooperate.
"Our first line of defense against these Felony Lane/Smash 'n Grab* suspects is to educate the public NOT to leave valuables in their cars, and to report any suspicious activity. We are doing that, and the public is cooperating. We are also working with other agencies to identify, locate, and arrest these suspects. This recent arrest is a great example of how teamwork and partnerships help solve crimes and put bad guys in jail." - Sheriff Grady Judd
* "Felony Lane/Smash 'n Grab" refers to a group of suspects operating as such: Male suspects scope out areas where women are known to leave their purses in their parked cars, such as schools, daycares, parks, gyms, and churches. The suspects, usually using a rental car with dark temporary tint on the windows, pull up next to the victim's car, punch a hole in the window, and take off with the purse. The entire crime takes less than 60 seconds. They then give the stolen driver's licenses to female accomplices who use wigs and disguises to take stolen checks to the farthest lane at a bank drive-through (hence the phrase "felony lane"), and cash the checks. They typically also fill up their cars with stolen credit cards.