How not to be a theft victim at the gym

A guy walks into a gym and pays 15 bucks for a one-time workout. Inside the gym bag he’s carrying is a bolt cutter.

He goes in the men’s locker room, waits until the room is empty and then cuts a lock. Luck of the draw. He finds a wallet. He takes the credit card from the wallet and closes the locker and places the lock back as best he can so it won’t look cut open at first glance.

The man walks out, stopping to get his 15 bucks back, claiming he has been called away.

It took less than 10 minutes.

The man knows he has only a short amount of time until the owner of the credit card discovers the theft and cancels the card. The bad guy goes directly across the street to an electronic store and purchases a 42- inch flat-screen TV.

Within30 minutes, the sale is done and the salesman is helping the man load the television in the car.

The victim is still on the treadmill.

The salesman stops in his tracks, slaps himself in the head.

“I almost forgot. We have a special on this television. You get a year’s free extended warranty. Doesn’t cost a dime. It’ll only take a minute to fill out the paperwork.”

The man agrees.

During the next five minutes, for some reason, the bad guy gives his real address and phone number, shakes hands with the salesman and drives to Decatur where he unloads the TV.

The next day, before he can even hook up the TV, he’s arrested for theft and fraud charges.

Two things should come to mind:

  • One, stealing is relatively easy to do.
  • Two: There is no shortage of stupid crooks.

I love the dumb crooks. They make the rest of us look smart.

But we, the human race, are lazy enough to keep them in business. Even the dumb ones get lucky.

Stop helping the bad guys

Workout facilities are frequent targets for theft. We probably see half to a dozen of these thefts each week. Most often the scenario is the same: Cut lock and take a wallet, keys and sometimes clothes.

The reason gyms are favorite targets is people bring expensive watches, cash and a wallet stuffed with credit cards. The locks in a typical locker facility are not that hard to get into. People think it’s safe but it isn’t.

The losses in cash and expensive jewelry are amazing. Sometimes a $10,000 Rolex is complemented by the $1,200 in cash that was in the wallet, sitting in a locker guarded by a cheap lock.

Put some sort of plan together that results in nothing of value being in that locker. Just for grins, leave an insulting note to whomever may break in, just in case they do.

Be smart about things in your car, too

Don’t forget cars are easy targets, too. Retail parking lots are often hit.

There are two things the thief can’t afford: Time and noise. In my opinion, your chances are better leaving valuables in the car if you find yourself a good hiding spot within the car that would take time to find. They’ll move on if they don’t spot something immediately.

Use the trunk, but don’t wait until you’re at the gym parking lot to hide your stuff because the crook may be watching. The trunk can be a hard place to find something, especially when a would-be thief doesn’t know if anything is in there in the first place.

Better yet, on gym days, leave all that bling at home. Only take the key to the car — not your electronic garage door opener — to the gym.

A little of this and a little of that will probably keep you from that really bad feeling in the pit of your stomach when you find out your stuff is gone.

Five undercover cops in two cars were in the parking lot at the back of an apartment complex. They were responding to several car break-ins the previous week. After a while they got hungry — just sitting and watching — so they ordered a pizza.

The driver was to meet one of the detectives near the steps at the front of one of the apartment buildings. As the driver pulled up, one of the cops got out of the car to meet her. Suddenly a man comes around from the side of the building and pulls a knife on the driver. The bad guy turned around to see five men running at him with a variety of weapons and strange-looking smiles on their faces.

Later the would-be robber said he thought he was about to get mugged.

I love those dumb-crook guys.

Think about how you would steal from yourself in any given situation. Don’t sit back on “It won’t happen to me.”

Just take a little time and be creative.

20 comments Add your comment

yamama

July 13th, 2010
2:56 pm

Good advice. My husband got a credit card stolen out of his locker at Lifetime Fitness. Lock was not broken so thinks it might have been inside job. Regardless, learned his lesson, don’t bring anything into the gym you might not want stolen!!!

Kman

July 13th, 2010
4:13 pm

I put a note in my locker that says: “SMILE – you have just been caught breaking into a BAIT LOCKER! Please stay put and you will be arrested promptly.” I kind of hope my locker is broken into one day and folks get to see the crooks reaction :-)

Walter LIttle, Jr.

July 13th, 2010
4:57 pm

I agree with Officer Rose about the gym. Look at it this way, if you have crooks who are brazen enough to steal a car out of the parking lot at the police station, they wouldn’t think twice about doing a “snatch & grab” at a gym.

Mom

July 13th, 2010
6:46 pm

Perfect timing! I tell my know-it-all college age son not to use the gym locker…but he knows everything, soooo much more than his parents. He’ll find the link to this article in his inbox. Thanks.

Festus

July 14th, 2010
6:41 am

Thanks for the heads up. Another great excuse for me not to work out.

Mary

July 14th, 2010
6:43 am

Similiar situation happened to my son in law. Had put his wallet in console of his truck before he went to the YMCA in Acworth. He locked his clothes and keys in locker. After his workout he noticed the lock had been opened. His keys were in the locker. He went out to his truck. The wallet was still there minus his drivers license and credit cards. He called my daughter to cancel all immediately. The crooks had used them within minutes, buying computers and TV’s.

Van Jones

July 14th, 2010
10:30 am

Wow, would-be-robber / pizza delivera night would have been a great night to go on a ride along! Not often you get to see a wannabe thug poop his pants.

Fred

July 15th, 2010
11:12 am

How many times have you posted an article on this subject since you started the blog Steve? 15? 20?

And people STILL don’t get it. I’ll bet I had my wife read at least 5 of them before it sunk in to her. It helped that every time you posted, you described a different crime. Keep beating the drum, more people are getting in step with the band.

Gotta love the thief though who got the free warranty on his free TV…………… He thought he was really getting over didn’t he?

Cynthia

July 15th, 2010
5:22 pm

Officer Steve, love your column and agree valuables should not be left in your gym locker or car, but can you give us some suggestions on what people should do. Unfortunately, unless you go to the gym on your lunch hour, most people go before or after work. I certainly don’t want to leave my purse in my car at any time, even in the trunk, and most people have no place to put their keys while they’re working out. You can’t drive anywhere without your license, and you don’t want to leave for work without some money or a credit card in case of an emergency, especially if you go to the gym several times a week. Any suggestions would be most appreciated, but maybe it’s time for gyms to install safes like hotels do.

Ole Guy

July 16th, 2010
12:42 am

The inside of my car looks like a trash can, repleat with a few day’s newspapers, a few wadded up burger wrapers (clean; never used for the intended purpose), and general debris. I keep all this stuff in a box in the trunk; when I plan on parking in “questionable locations”, I break out the junk, spread it around, and go about my business. It seems to have worked so far…car has never been broken into, despite the occasional valuable item buried within the junk.

I guess theives only break into cars which literaly scream “VALUABLES INSIDE…COME AND GET IT”!

Ernie

July 16th, 2010
8:41 am

If you want to leave valuables in a vehicle, another idea that I utilize is to use a lockbox that is bolted to the interior of the vehicle – whether that be in cab of the truck or trunk of the car. No thief will be willing to spend the time to try to defeat the lockbox. These boxes are typically large enough to contain your wallet, watch, various bling, garage door remote, and if necessary your favorite self-defense device (mine is a .45 cal). They come with keyed or combination locks. Not perfect, but effective.

Boses

July 17th, 2010
7:36 am

I love this column. Great stories, great advice, and it’s always good for laughs.

Jeff

July 17th, 2010
8:27 am

What I have been doing is bringing a small gym bag to keep valuables in. I carry it around the gym with me so no one has a chance to steal my stuff. I even keep my pistol in there to. No one knows, but me. I have never had anything stolen!

jackie baines

July 17th, 2010
9:02 am

A THIEF TAKES YOUR “FOR SALE” VEHICLE FOR A DRIVE WITH YOU RIDING SHOTGUN. HE GETS ON THE INTERSTATE AND AFTER A MILE OR TWO SUDDENLY PULLS OVER AND ASK YOU TO LOOK AT RIGHT REAR TIRE WHICH HE FEELS IS GOING FLAT. YOU GET OUT TO LOOK AND “GOODBYE”. HE IS GONE AND YOU ARE STANDING ON SIDE OF ROAD.

jackie baines

July 17th, 2010
9:26 am

RE. PREVIOUS ARTICLE. HOW DO FOLKS RUN THEIR MOUTHS WHEN YOU DO NOT KNOW WHAT THE LT. DID ABOUT GUY ON PHONE. HOW MANY OF YOU HAVE EVER DONE ANYTHING ABOUT IDIOTS ON PHONES?

MariettaGunOwner

July 17th, 2010
7:33 pm

I carry a fanny pack into the gym, with ID, Wallet, phone, keys and 9mm. I hang/snap it to the treadmill or whatever equipment I am using that way it is never out of my sight or out of reach. This has worked well so far. Also if you carry a towel with you, drape it over the fanny pack so would be robbers done see it.

Catlady

July 17th, 2010
8:05 pm

Did you hear the one about the guy who ran over a cat and then boxed it up with wrapping paper and left it in the car, with the doors unlocked? Of course, it was stolen. Would have been funny to see the thief’s face when he unwrapped his “gift!”

Or is this an urban legend?

trying hard to be patient

July 18th, 2010
3:38 pm

Catlady, that is urban legend and there are various stories about it. I have also received it as a joke e-mail.

Chris Almighty

July 19th, 2010
3:51 pm

I have a feeling that if you are wearing a fanny pack, you will not have to worry about anybody getting near you at all.

Paola

July 19th, 2010
4:56 pm

Come with the idea about the car for sale thefts
The thief pull out his gone you increase your speed up to 100 or more if you feel comfortable. Fear of terrible death will keep anyone from shooting the driver. Then just go on 285 keeping your speed and wait until patrol car or cop will pull you over.