If there ever was a street code that women and children are off limits -- it's no longer obeyed by those responsible for B.C.'s gang war.

The bullets are flying and they don't care about age or gender.

Over the last two-and-a-half months, four women linked to the criminal underworld have been shot and killed.

Betty Yan, shot to death in her Mercedes Benz. Laura Lamoureux, murdered in the middle of the street. Brianna Kinnear, slumped over in a pick up truck killed by a gun shot. And, perhaps the most troubling, Niki Allemy. Her vehicle and body was riddled with bullets while her four-year-old son watched.

All four women had ties to criminal elements.

Criminologist Darryl Plecas says the numbers of women involved have grown in recent decades.

"There's more women, relatively speaking, involved in organized crime than ever before. The percentage of women involved as criminals is climbing every year for the last 20-plus years," he said.

Police aren't calling it a trend, but aren't naive to the fact more women are playing active roles in organized crime either. And they are being shot for it.

"It certainly identifies that women aren't above being shot and killed in today's world, really," said Cpl. Dale Carr of the Integrated Homicide Investigation Team.

"Certainly in the two-and-half-years that I've been with the integrated homicide team I've never seen it. And in the 22 years that I've been in policing I'm not familiar with this."

Plecas doesn't buy the argument that women are being exploited by the criminal underworld.

"More women are finding this as a way to make money, fast. And like other people in that business not being attentive as they should be to all the consequences," he said.

"For some women there's a real attraction of the gangster. And they get caught up in it. They're hanging out with people who are flashing big wads of money, driving fancy cars."

With a report by CTV British Columbia's Rob McKee