Thieves target gym, fitness facility parking lots - FOX 13 News

Thieves target gym, fitness facility parking lots

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TAMPA (FOX 13) -

Laura Barnes says she's always cautious with her valuables. Her quick early afternoon trip to Anytime Fitness on Kennedy Boulevard two weeks ago was no exception.

"I left my job, about a half-mile down the road. I put my purse on the floorboard next to me, with the windshield cover over the pocketbook," Barnes said.

But just 45 minutes later, she walked out to find her car had been burglarized.

"I couldn't believe it. I actually got in the car and I saw something shining on my black floor mat, and I thought, 'Oh, maybe that's my earring.' And I looked down and it was glass," Barnes recalled.

Police say a man smashed he car window and managed to use her credit card before she even worked up a sweat inside the gym.

He's seen on surveillance video swiping away at a nearby convenience store, and then leaving in a purple Chevy HHR.

Barnes isn't alone on this one. In just the past week, two more women's car windows were shattered and broken into just a few miles away at a Hyde Park yoga studio.

"I'd say gyms are very popular, also other places where people exercise, fitness trails, parks," Tampa Police Sgt. Greg Van Heyst said Tuesday.

He says this type of crime is quick and calculated.

"It's much more planned out. Sometimes they'll bring devices where they can punch a window and it just shatters and they can quickly go in and grab a purse," Van Heyst said.

Police say purses don't need to be in plain view. Van Heyst says thieves bank on the fact that women likely won't bring all their belongings inside the gym with them.

"Always think someone may be watching you. Keep your valuables very close, or keep them at home, locked in a safe," Barnes said.

Tampa police say if you're not going to take your purse with you, lock it in the trunk or just leave it at home.


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