Police issue warning after rash of smash and grabs

Police want to talk to this man in connection with a Southport smash and grab.

Police in central Indiana are warning drivers after a series of smash and grab vehicle robberies. The incidents are frequently occurring outside large gyms, where customers have left purses in their cars.

Surveillance video caught an image of a suspect involved in a smash and grab on August 27. It happened at the LA Fitness on Southport Road.

The victim of the theft, Melinda Lindsey, is still in a bit of shock. She says she never thought it would be so easy to become the victim of a crime.

"We thought we were doing the right thing. I have pretty dark, tinted windows. I figured it was in the middle of the day, we parked right in the front row," Lindsey said.

As quickly as the thief made off with her purse, he put her credit cards to work even faster at stores in Greenwood.

"He bought gas and then went to Walgreens and bought cigarettes and M&M's and then went to Target and bought a $400 TV," Lindsey said.

Within hours, police obtained surveillance photos of the man using the stolen credit cards. Cameras captured him entering and exiting stores and at the checkout. A white Chevy four-door Impala was seen leaving the Walgreens store. Call Crime Stoppers at 317-262-8477 if you recognize the man in the picture.

Someone also mailed Lindsey her driver's license. She keeps it in a plastic bag, hoping police can get a fingerprint from the envelope.

The smash and grabs are not limited to Indianapolis. Incidents were reported at 10575 Workout Way and 1195 Central Park Drive (Monon Community Center) in Carmel, as well as incidents in Fishers, Whiteland, Lebanon, Pendleton (My Time Fitness) and Franklin.

Indianapolis Metro Police have investigated smash and grabs at 6925 West 38th Street and at 6160 North Keystone Ave. (LA Fitness parking lot) and at Southeast Way Park.

Police say you should hide your bookbag or purse in the trunk, out of the view of thieves. If you don't have a trunk, take your belongings with you. Lindsey now warns other drivers to think twice.

At the Monon Community Center, signs warn visitors about theft, but Eyewitness News still found purses in plain view in vehicles. One of the purses belongs to Daniela Rigmaden, who was leaving the family with her gym.

"Around here, I put it on the seat. Now if we would go out somewhere at night, I would put it under the seat," Rigmaden said.

But with smash and grab thieves preying on parks and gym parking lots, under the seat may still be too risky.

"Several people told me it's happened to them at the gym, at the park," Lindsey said.

Recent Gym Smash and Grabs

LA Fitness 6160 Keystone Ave. 7/23/2012

LA Fitness 9930 Pendleton Pike 8/10/2012

LA Fitness 3855 E. Southport Rd. 8/27/2012 

LA Fitness 9930 Pendleton Pike 9/18/2012