Burglaries at Valley gym leave members looking for answers

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PHOENIX - Nicole Newman, like many people, has a gym membership.

She signed up at this L.A. Fitness on 23rd Ave. earlier this year and never had a problem, until recently.

Nicole says she and her sister were at a water aerobics class and when it was over, she returned to their car.

“And I immediately noticed that the window where I was sitting in the passenger side was smashed, and I saw my purse was gone,” Nicole said. “I did freak out because I've never had that happen.”

Nicole says they immediately called police and notified the gym, but were surprised to find out this wasn't an isolated incident.

In fact, the Phoenix Police Department tells 3 On Your Side there have been 35 reports of theft at the gym since the beginning of last year.

“This is happening more than it should be on that premises,” Nicole said.

“Thieves are creatures of opportunity,” Sgt. Tommy Thompson explained.

Sgt. Thompson says it doesn't matter when or where, criminals prey on people who make a habit out of leaving personal items in plain sight.

“A lot of times, thieves go window shopping so ask yourself have you hidden the things that you don't want out in sight,” he said.

Sgt. Thompson says simple things like parking near an entrance or under a light, locking your doors, and hiding valuables like laptops, purses and cell phones become obstacles for criminals.

“Thieves generally try to pick on the easiest target they can find,” he said.

L.A. Fitness tells 3 On Your Side it encourages members to take these precautions when they sign-up.

A manager says there's also a security guard on duty a few hours during the day, plus surveillance cameras keeping an eye on the lot around the clock.

However, a manager says there are some areas where those security cameras don't reach, like the parking spot where Nicole's purse was stolen.

“They charged about $100 on my debit card,” Nicole said.

She’s disputing those charges with her credit card company.

While she does take some of the blame for not hiding her purse better, she says wished she would’ve known there were previous problems.

“But I wish they would've at least just informed us so we had a little information to go off so we could be a little bit more cautious about what we left in our car,” Nicole said.