Spate of car burglaries reported outside Pico Rivera gym

PICO RIVERA — Deputies are carrying out extra patrols and advising the public to remain vigilant in response to a spate of more then two-dozen auto burglaries in recent months in the parking lot of a Pico Rivera gym.
About 30 car break-ins have been reported over the past six months outside L.A. Fitness, at Washington and Rosemead boulevards, Los Angeles County sheriff’s Sgt. Joe Van Damme said. And the trend has been increasing lately, with eight burglaries reported over the past two weeks.
Van Damme and other deputies keeping watch over the parking lot Friday afternoon in an undercover operation spotted two burglars in the act, though the men escaped following a brief pursuit.
Deputies saw two men arrive in a four-door, pewter-colored, 2003 Nissan Maxima and break into a car parked in the parking lot, Van Damme said.
The driver of the Nissan swerved head-on toward a sheriff’s vehicle when deputies tried to pull the car over, then sped away, initiating a chase, Van Damme said.
The car blew through red lights before deputies lost sight of it in the area of Paramount and Whittier boulevards, the sergeant added. The driver was described as a Latino man between 25 and 30 years old, with a stocky build. The passenger was a thin Latino man between 18 and 25.
In addition to the car that fled from deputies Friday, two other different vehicles — a late-model Chevrolet Uplander minivan and a late-model Infinity coupe — have also been connected to the string of break-ins via surveillance cameras, Van Damme said.
The thieves have been smashing windows and forcing locks to access the vehicles, though they primarily appear to be targeting cars with valuables left in plain sight.
Van Damme encouraged the public to always stow valuables out of the sight of opportunistic burglars if leaving them behind in a vehicle.

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