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West Dundee police warn of car burglaries at fitness centers

Updated: December 19, 2012 1:19PM

WEST DUNDEE — Those heading into area fitness centers need to remember more than just their water bottles.

West Dundee police are also urging residents to hide their valuables and lock their car doors after seeing an increase in the number of burglaries to vehicles.

Police Chief Andrew Wieteska said officials are pursuing a few leads in regard to the thefts at both the new Randall Oaks Recreation Center on Randall Road and L.A. Fitness on Route 31.

“It’s a disproportionately high number,” he said. “This is a more sophisticated ring that is targeting these vehicles. We believe they’re watching the patrons come into the centers, knowing it’s then safe to try and enter the vehicle. They’re also watching what people are doing inside the vehicle before getting out.”

Wieteska said if the car doors aren’t unlocked, suspects are sometimes forcing entry by breaking out windows with a screwdriver.

“This group is pretty brazen,” he said. “We don’t believe they’re from this area. We’re asking people to take extra precautions. We’re doing our part following up on the leads we have and we’re hopeful arrests can be made.”

Fitness center patrons can keep their cars safe from intruders by making sure valuables such as purses, wallets, GPS units and loose change are hidden.

Wieteska said the holiday season in general is a good time to make sure car doors are locked and items aren’t in plain view.

“This is a busy time for all police departments that have retail — there’s a good spike in car burglaries,” he said. “Residents need to just be extra cautious. It is the holiday season. Don’t be a victim.”

He suggests patrons take valuable possessions such as purses and wallets into the fitness centers with them to store in a locker, or leave them at home, if practical.

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