At least four vehicles were broken into at LA Fitness in Hazel Dell Monday evening.
Four auto prowl reports came in to 911 at about 8 p.m., as a popular Zumba fitness class was letting out, according to emergency dispatch logs. Jane Reed, who attended the Zumba class at 7607 N.E. Fifth Ave., found the window of her BMW smashed. She said the thief made off with her purse, which was tucked underneath a seat.
“I’m sick to my stomach. I just feel violated,” she said. After Reed reported the crime, she said other gym members came out to the parking lot and found their car windows broken. Reed said Ridgefield police later found her Costco membership card and Kaiser Permanente card in a dumpster but no sign of her purse. In the meantime, she’s getting her car fixed.
When a Clark County sheriff’s deputy showed up at the gym, he discovered evidence that someone broke in to a couple more cars besides Reed’s. By the time the deputy arrived, however, those cars had already left the parking lot, Clark County Sheriff’s Office spokesman Sgt. Fred Neiman said.
Neiman said smash-and-grabs are crimes of convenience. They typically take place in parking lots where thieves know the owner will be gone for a while. When valuables are left in plain sight, it gives them incentive to break in and swipe them. It’s best to store valuables out of sight or to take them with you when you leave the vehicle, as thieves may still rifle through glove boxes and the trunk, he said.
The sheriff’s office believes one person or the same group of people committed all of the prowls Monday evening, Neiman said.
Reed wonders why no one saw or reported anything while the crimes were being committed. She also said she hopes the gym improves the lighting in the parking lot and installs security cameras. If security measures aren’t improved, she may cancel her membership and switch to another gym.
"I know what these people are capable of because I work here (in Clark County Corrections)," she said.