Theft ring targets customers of metro area fitness centers

38 parking lot smash and grabs in last 2 months

GOLDEN, Colo. - Customers at metro area fitness centers are being warned about a theft ring that is breaking into cars and stealing purses.

“Thirty-eight cars have been broken into in the last 60 days,” said Jacki Kelley of the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office. “Almost all of those cars were locked.”

Kelley said many of the thefts are happening in broad daylight.

Last Thursday, deputies responded to the Bally Total Fitness Center near Southwest Plaza to investigate two separate break-ins in the parking lot.

In both cases the windows were shattered and a purse was stolen.

“We think that this is some sort of criminal ring of folks because we have different vehicle descriptions. We have different suspect descriptions, but the M.O. is very much the same,” Kelley said.

The sheriff’s office released security video which shows a black SUV, possibly a Dodge Journey, cruising through the parking lot while customers walk to and from the gym.

It then shows two men going up to the cars and committing the crimes.

“I think it’s a shame,” said Holly Vinnola, a customer at Bally’s.

Vinnola told 7NEWS that she doesn’t usually leave her purse in the car because it had been stolen before.

“I was at a park one time, playing volleyball,” she said. “Somebody smashed my window, but it was my fault.  My purse was laying on the floor in plain sight.”

“You need to put your property in the trunk,” Kelley said. “If you don’t have a trunk, you need to take your property with you and not make it obvious to people who are trying to victimize you.”

Kelley said that in most cases, the thieves or their associates have used a drive-thru window at a local bank to withdraw cash using the victim’s ID.

She also said that the smash and grabs are being committed by men, but it appears that women are the ones pulling up to the drive-thru windows and withdrawing cash.

Kelley said that anyone who frequents a fitness center in metro Denver should keep their eyes open for anyone who appears to be loitering in the parking lot around the cars, or who appears to be casing the lot from their own vehicle.

“We’d like to contact those individuals,” she said. 

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