Brentwood police are investigating a rash of vehicle break-ins over the last month including one at the Maryland Farms YMCA.
Surveillance video from the parking lot of the YMCA on the afternoon of December 31 shows a man drive up in a dark colored 1990s model Chevy Blazer. The SUV has only temporary tags.
The man calmly cases the parking lot, pretending to be a patron of the facility. He uses the opportunity to look into vehicles and see what people have left in plain view.
The video shows him look into several vehicles but he chooses one car in particular.
The car belongs to a young woman who reportedly took her wallet and checkbook into the YMCA but left her Coach purse behind and hid it under a towel.
According to Brentwood police Det. Jeff Dooley, leaving the purse under the towel was a mistake.
"The suspects don't know what is under there, but they don't care. They don't have to pay to get windows replaced or cancel credit cards or get a new driver's license. What does it matter to them? So just covering up items won't deter them from breaking into your vehicle," Dooley explained.
The video shows the man put a tool into the door frame to pop out the glass.
He walks away to make sure the coast is clear before he returns to the victims' car, pushes in the window and steals the purse.
"Most suspects pull in and watch, seeing who takes items in, and who is securing items so they know where they are," Dooley cautioned, adding, "That's when they will get out and walk up and look in vehicles. This guy was nonchalant. He fit in the area. He didn't raise suspicion."
Anyone who recognizes the man from the surveillance video is urged to call Brentwood police.
In the meantime, police remind citizens to hide their valuables before arriving to public places such as the YMCA.
Possessions should never be covered with coats or towels as they only serve to peak the curiosity of thieves.
Citizens should also be alert in their surroundings. Police say a dozen people walked by the suspect and never noticed him.