Smash-and-grab burglars target gym members' cars

People going to a Planet Fitness in Pinellas Park have been frequent targets of burglars.

An evening workout comes with a hefty price tag for several victims in Pinellas Park, walking out of the gym to find their car windows smashed out.

The Pinellas Park Police Department says there have been at least four smash-and-grabs recently outside Planet Fitness, 11141 U.S. Hwy. 19 North.

The latest victim tells 10News WTSP that the crooks are shattering members' sense of security.

It is dark in the plaza parking lot, many of the lights aren’t working.  Planet Fitness customers say that's part of the problem, as they head in to hit the gym it gives crooks a cover of darkness to hit their cars.

“We got here at 10:55, and my phone is taken at 11:11 p.m.,” says car burglary victim Nicole Allen.

Allen stopped into Planet Fitness for a late-night workout, but it's burglars who got in a run: swooping in, smashing her car window, stealing her iPhone, purse and seizure medication in 16 minutes, then ditching the phone across the street.  She tracked it all on an app.

“I was just like (sighs).  It happened quick, it happen that quick,” says Allen.

The thieves also shattered two windows on TJ Feldhouse and Rachel Odell's car, taking his wallet from the console with $400, credit cards, and a backpack with $200 worth of makeup.

“There's glass over there in the parking lot.  This is obviously happening, and no one is doing anything about it.  It's just driving me crazy,” says Allen.

The burglars left behind their prints for police.  “They are sloppy criminals,” Allen says.

While the gym and Amscot have security cameras, Allen was told it's too dark to see any suspects.

“Get the lights on if you're going to have companies that have cameras outside.  Their cameras need to see what's going on at night,” says Allen.

“We want to do everything we can to protect our customers and make this a great experience for our tenants,” says plaza owner Ron Frank.

Plaza owner Ron Frank says he is working to make the parking lot safer.

“Duke has a program to enhance lighting and bring a little better lighting to centers.  We’re working with them right now and some other contractors to try to make the place a little better lit at night,” says Frank.

Allen vows that she'll do her part to not be a target again.  “I definitely won't leave anything in my car anymore, if I do I will put it in my trunk,” Allen says.

Many Planet Fitness members tell 10News if security isn't fixed fast, they're canceling their memberships.

Allen also has a warning to the crooks: her epilepsy medication that they stole won't get them high, but will cause them to have seizures.


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