COLONIE – An alert bank teller in Colonie led to the arrest of two people Wednesday in connection with an attempted fraud commonly known as the “Felony Lane Gang,” Colonie police said.
The incident also led to a brief police chase as the suspects fled, and then a lengthy ground search near the airport after the suspects abandoned their vehicle, police said.
Arrested were Shannon M. Thompson, 36, homeless but originally from Pennsylvania, and Melissa D. Farley, 33, of Philadelphia. They each face one count of second-degree criminal possession of a forged instrument and first-degree identity theft, along with two counts of second-degree criminal possession of stolen property, felonies.
The investigation began at about 4 p.m. Wednesday when the local bank employee contacted police to report suspicious activity in the bank’s drive-through, police said.
The caller reported a woman was attempting to access a bank account using a stolen driver’s license and the woman appeared to be wearing a disguise, police said.
The employee also recognized the woman as possibly having been involved in other recent crimes at other bank locations in the region, police said.
The woman left the bank prior to police arrival, but officers found the car within minutes and attempted to stop it. The driver, identified as Thompson, however, refused to stop and led police on a brief pursuit.
Officers lost sight of the vehicle near the Albany International Airport, but later found it abandoned near the Albany County Hockey Facility on Albany Shaker Road, police said.
With help from the Albany County Sheriff’s Office, police soon learned a direction of travel and a description of two women who abandoned the vehicle, police said.
Police set up a perimeter around a wooded area where they were believed to have entered. After an exhaustive 90-minute search, police found both and arrested them. They were arraigned and released to probation supervision to return to court later, police said.
“Both suspects appear to be operating as part of a regional, or national, fraud rink, where thieves commonly steal pocketbooks from vehicles, and then use the personal identification of the victims to commit bank fraud and theft,” police said in a release.
Perpetrators also often alter their appearance to resemble the victims, police said.
Multiple local victims have been identified and police expect to connect the suspects to others as the investigation continues.
Colonie police thanked the Albany County Sheriff’s Office, which provided personnel, video surveillance, a police K-9 and a UTV in the search. The New York State Police also provided air assistance with their Aviation Unit, police said.
Police also thanked the alert bank employee.
“The employee was very observant, had good instincts, knew something was not right, and immediately contacted the Police,” police said in their release. “Without their assistance, these criminals likely would have been able to continue victimizing people throughout the Capital Region.”