Burglars target dimly-lit Planet Fitness parking lot

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A Planet Fitness gym has become the target of local auto burglars. In the last month, four vehicles have been broken into with the windows shattered.

Nicole Allen was shocked to learn her car was burglarized around 11 p.m. Monday, as she and her husband worked out inside the Planet Fitness at 11141 U.S. Highway 19 North in Pinellas Park. The couple had only been inside the gym for 20 minutes when someone notified them their back passenger side window was shattered.

"I didn't think it could happen that fast. I really didn't. I didn't think they could hit two cars that fast," said Nicole Allen.

When Pinellas Park Police arrived, they learned another car had also been hit. Similar to Allen, a window was smashed in. Clothing and personal identification was stolen from the other vehicle. Allen's purse and iPhone were taken.

"I was like, 'Are you kidding me?'" said Allen, "There's glass all over my kid's car seat. I've had people say, 'Why did you leave valuables in your car?' There's no way they knew there was anything in my car," added Allen, who has tinted windows on her vehicle and pushed her purse underneath her driver's seat.

According to Pinellas Park Police reports, prior to the two auto burglaries Monday, two other cars were broken into in the same Planet Fitness parking lot on August 22. An officer reported the surveillance camera at the entrance of the gym was unable to record any of the burglaries due to poor lighting in the parking lot. It was too dark to see anything on the camera.

"We've heard from multiple people who go here that they've contacted [Planet Fitness]. They've said, 'Hey, the lights don't work.' There are lights everywhere here, and not one of them works," said Allen.

FOX 13 reached out to Ron Frank, the owner of Pinellas Park Square, where the Planet Fitness is located. According to Frank, the lights in the parking lot were knocked out last week during Hurricane Hermine.

"We immediately started calling light companies to see what we could do to try to improving the lighting here," said Ron Frank, after learning of the recent burglaries on Tuesday. "We're talking with third party vendors about trying to bring in better LED lighting to light up the parking lot so people do feel safe here."

Frank said he is talking with Duke Energy representatives and hoping to fix the lighting issue within the next month. He said he hopes the burglaries won't scare people away from the shopping center he is working to revive.

"We've spent a million dollars in here. We came in and purchased a very depressed shopping center and have almost filled the whole center up, and to have something like this happen is just...It really hurts," said Frank.

Anyone with information on the auto burglaries is asked to contact Pinellas Park Police.