Thieves target women while they work out

Posted at 7:02 PM, Aug 22, 2016
and last updated 2016-08-23 01:04:13-04

EL CAJON, Calif. - El Cajon police are warning the public after a series of vehicle break-ins where thieves appear to be targeting women while they work out.

Around 8:30 a.m. last Saturday, Jenny stuffed her purse under the front passenger seat, locked her SUV, set the alarm and went inside Crunch gym on Jamacha Road for a workout.

Two hours later, she got to her SUV and discovered a shattered windshield.

"I was starting the car and I heard something clinging -- like coins -- and I turned around and saw the window," said Jenny.

Her back passenger window was shattered and her purse was gone.

Jenny told 10News she did leave the purse with the handle sticking out from underneath the seat.

"I just felt dumb, I felt devastated; I had money in there for my husband to pay bills that morning," said Jenny.

Inside her purse was hundreds of dollars, a debit card and a passport.

"I went home and cried," said Jenny.

Jenny is hardly the only victim.

One store owner in the shopping center said this break-in was the 10th smash-and-grab involving a purse in the parking lot in the last few months.

"Really low, really low of them to do that. It makes me mad," said Jenny.

Surveillance video obtained by 10News shows a different incident from last week. In it, a woman breaks the window and grabs a purse before getting into the backseat of a car, which then drives off.

Jenny posted the details of her incident, along with photos, on the East County Emergency Updates Facebook page.

El Cajon police say it's not clear how many of these cases are linked. They confirmed three such cases within the past week.

10News learned locker spaces are available for gym members.

Police suggest anyone who plans to put a purse or wallet in the trunk to make sure it is done before arriving at the gym.