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Thief Targeting Cars Parked At Fitness Clubs

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Surveillance pictures of a shiny new black Dodge Charger could be the key to solving a string of automobile break-ins in O`Fallon, Illinois.   Police say the suspect is especially preying on cars parked in fitness club parking lots.

'Looks like a brand new, very nice car,' said Sgt. Rob Schmidtke.

It`s flashy and the driver is fast:  minutes after busting out a car window and stealing a purse, he was in the Walmart parking lot for a shopping spree with a stolen credit card.  Wednesday morning it happened again in the Gold`s Gym parking lot:  same car, same driver, same crime.

'What he does is, he pulls onto the lots of gyms, places of that nature, places where there`s a lot of cars,' explains Schmidtke.  'He`ll pull up, take a large object out of his trunk, today it was a bat, maybe a pipe.  He smashed the window and took a purse off the seat.'

And from the gym he drove to a gas station and immediately filled up on a stolen card.

'They go and do this before the owner discovers it and cancels the cards,' explained Schmidtke.  'The problem we have at gyms is people always take valuables and criminals know this. They`ll go there and get in the vehicles, and even if it`s at random, they`ll usually find something.'

Police say gym parking lots are easy prey, so they`re preaching to patrons to leave nothing of value in sight or even hidden.

Officers suspect the same shiny, new black dodge charger is connected to as many as seven car break-ins in O`Fallon, maybe more.

'What we know is that these people don`t just hit the same lots in the same city, they travel around, so what we`re hoping is that somebody out there will know the car, will recognize this person and maybe they`ll call and let us know,' Schmidtke said.

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