Gym Member Catches Thief In The Act; Gym Staff Too Lazy To Help

We’re pretty impressed that this member of the Washington Sports Clubs at the DC USA Mall helped catch a thief. We’re a little stunned, however, that the staff at the gym let the guy enter in the first place without making sure he had a membership, or that they did nothing to stop him as he ran out with someone behind him yelling, “Stop! Thief!” Thankfully an off-duty cop pursued and apprehended the guy, and the member got back his wallet. But what’s the point of a gym membership and a staff if you’re completely on your own once you get there?

Here’s how useless everyone was while the member tried to keep the thief from making off with his wallet:

When I went back the man was still there and fiddling with his black messenger bag. I immediately noticed that my lock was no longer on the locker and had been replaced with another one. I stopped the guy and said, “Hey you took things from lockers, didn’t you. Let me look in your bag.” He said no. Then he told me to leave him alone and stop bothering him. Then I grabbed at the bag, and he pushed me away and there was a scuffle. Something fell out of his bag and the guy seemed really worried. He pushed me away and ran off. I told the towel attendant to stop him, and he did nothing. I chased the thief as he was leaving and shouted, “This man is a thief, he has stolen people’s wallets from the locker room.” Again the WSC staff couldn’t have been more bored. The young woman at the reception desk let him go out. I chased him out, still calling “THIEF” and an off-duty metro policeman, bless his heart, chased the guy, who by this time was running. I went to the landing to shout to the security guy at the front door of the mall, “Stop that man in the white shirt and black pants, and demand to look in his bag. He has robbed me and others.” The security person saw who I was referring to but did nothing. The thief ran out the door.

[…]

What I found most appalling was the fact that a) WSC staff are not doing ID checks on people going into the lockerrooms or entering the gym b) the staff seemed a little blase about the incident, and seemed to think this was an all’s well that end’s well affair c) the supposed “Security” people at the door of the mall are just there for decoration. I gave 30 seconds advance notice, shouting, of the thief’s approach, and security did everything but hold the door for him d) off-duty cops can be very brave and e) the MPD’s protocol for taking notes and filing reports appears, for now, efficient. The thief is to be charged with Theft (1) “if the case goes forward.”

If you’re a member of a gym, you might want to show them this story and remind them to check memberships and be aware of who comes in and out. (Try not to add, “Or you know, just do your job.”) Unless they’re offering some weird new workout class, bolt cutters are not required equipment for a trip to the gym.

“Thief Caught At Washington Sports Club in DC USA Mall Saturday Afternoon” [Prince Of Petworth] (Thanks to Alex!)
(Photo: Fristle)

Comments

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  1. INsano says:

    “Thankfully an off-duty copy pursued and apprehended the guy…”

    Xerox FTW apparently?

  2. GMFish says:

    The fact that they didn’t check the guy’s ID is pretty bad. But I’d guess the employees are told never to touch anyone in the facility who doesn’t want to be touched, and that includes thieves.

    • Corporate_guy says:

      @GMFish: They should still have a quick way to call security. Not having that is pretty messed up. And the fact that the security doesn’t do anything means the places is perfect for criminals. I definitely would stop going there.

      • Applekid ┬──┬ ノ( ã‚œ-゜ノ) says:

        @Corporate_guy: As a criminal, I would definitely start going there.

      • alexcassidy says:

        @Corporate_guy: Most mall security types don’t do sh*t, unfortunately. They’re just for show… liability is king, remember?

        • corinthos says:

          @alexcassidy: was like that at the mall I worked at. they say come with me and they say no then the security can only wait for the cops to arrive and walk besides the person as they leave. A friend of mine that was security there was like “yeah we are mostly just there to break up mobs of kids so they aren’t traveling in groups”

      • katstermonster says:

        @Corporate_guy: Yeah, security or the cops or something. Like, how about responding, “I can’t stop him, but I’ll call the cops right now!”

        Not that hard.

    • trunkwontopen says:

      @GMFish: You don’t have to touch someone to check their ID. That would be the whole point of a gym membership.

      I should go to this gym. Leave all my valuables in my car, and “purchase” a membership.

  3. KyleOrton says:

    Don’t stop going, just let your membership lapse. Apparently they don’t care if you pay or not.

    And as cool as it would be for Steven Seagal to clothesline any pickpocket or purse snatcher after a loud “Stop! Thief!” I don’t think a rent-a-cop can be expected to do the same and remain employed.

  4. pupu says:

    So who was supposed to risk getting hurt to stop this guy? The $8/hr locker room attendant or the $8/hr girl behind the desk. Cornering a thief is a good way to more or less guarantee that there will be a fight. If I’m going to get punched in the face (or knifed) it is sure not going to be over the $10 I bring with me to the gym, or over an $8/hr job. Besides – why not invest in a pair of shorts with a back pocket that buttons and keep your stuff on you?

    As far as how he got in – who knows. We don’t know that they let him in without checking ID. Since he had fresh locks to put on the lockers it sounds like this was somthing that was planned out – not a crime of opportunity – his friend could have let him in the back door. Or, since the guy steals he may have taken a membership card from someone who looks like him.

    • Skin Art Squared says:

      @pupu: “Cornering a thief is a good way to more or less guarantee that there will be a fight.”

      It’s a gym. Aren’t those people supposed to be in top shape?

    • hills says:

      @pupu: The security guard at the front door of the mall should have done something – I agree that the locker room guy & girl at the front desk aren’t responsible (aside from checking ID’s)…. but it was the security guard’s job.

    • Saboth says:

      @pupu:

      I’d have to say it is the gym attendants that need to check ID and make sure people that aren’t supposed to be there are kept out.

    • flyromeo3 says:

      @pp:
      @pp: gss thr r stll psss t thr n th wrld. Y bng n f thm.

      • Traveshamockery says:

        @flyromeo3: Wow…as one who has been disemvoweled in “Th_ NR_ Thr__d _nc_d_nt”, I nominate this guy for disemvowelment.

        • katstermonster says:

          @Travishamockery: Woowoo! You were right!

          @pupu: I would have hoped that at least one of the employees could make a move for the phone. It wouldn’t hurt. And if the cops show up and the gym member was lying, the accuser is in trouble, not the person who called in good faith. I don’t think it’s too much to ask one of the employees to show a little initiative and pick up a phone. In fact, their job training probably instructed them to do just that.

    • eddieck says:

      @pupu: You realize that putting anything in your back pocket is a prime target for pickpocketing? Watch The Real Hustle (British show but you can find it on YouTube) to see what I mean.

  5. Cant_stop_the_rock says:

    Standard procedure at most business is to make no attempt to detain criminals for liability reasons. Employees of some businesses have been FIRED for ignoring that rule. I don’t know why you’d want an untrained gym employee to risk their safety for someone’s wallet. And security guards are mostly useless, except this guy: [lonelymachines.org]

    Furthermore, the OP didn’t have any proof that the guy stole anything.

  6. eddieck says:

    They couldn’t just say “stop and search” as far as I know, since they’re not law enforcement and don’t have a search warrant. They could probably be sued.

  7. AstroPig7 says:

    This sounds like a normal retail environment: employees are told to leave thieves alone for fear of a lawsuit. I’m surprised that the security guard did nothing, but he might have the same instructions as the gym staff. In that case, this also sounds like a perfect environment for thieves.

    • Saboth says:

      @AstroPig7:

      You left something off though. “Dont apprehend thieves and risk lawsuit” would be the first thing corporate says, then in the same breath: “you guys really need to do something about your shrinkage, and we are cutting your employees hours by 20% this month so you have less people on the floor to spot shoplifters.”

  8. Jon Mills says:

    There are very specific laws about search and seizure. It is not unreasonable for the thief to say “no” to being searched and if there isn’t probable cause he wouldn’t be searched.

    Often times security guards will illegally search people, and then any of the evidence found would be unusable in court against the perp.

    I’m in no way defending the theif, I’m just pointing out that sometimes treading lightly in these situations can result in the theif being brought to justice and not released on a technicality.

    • TheWillow says:

      @Jon Mills: Not that I disagree with anything you said, but wouldn’t the OP acting as a witness to the crime constitute probable cause?

      • fantomesq says:

        @TheWillow: The OP didn’t witness anything. He didn’t even know that any of his own property was missing at that point (We’re not even told if anything was actually taken.) let alone having witnessed the guy in the act. Could a cop arrest based upon third party eye-witness – yes, under certain circumstances, but they certainly aren’t required to do so.

    • XBL: Legend xKWx (Kyle) says:

      @Jon Mills: I think running away after being called a thief is probable cause enough. And most people would be okay with having their shit searched to clear their name, especially if they were accused of stealing

    • Saboth says:

      @Jon Mills:

      Wouldn’t the accusation of a citizen that he witnessed a crime be sufficient reason for a search?

      • fantomesq says:

        @Saboth: But he didn’t witness a crime! He witnessed before and after a crime and supposed th guy to be the perpetrator. Thats not the same thing.

  9. snazz says:

    there is actually a lot of liability on the business and the actual employee if the thief gets injured or harassed, sometimes even touched. most retail store employees wont actually touch shoplifters, as legal problems can follow. when i worked retail, we were trained to report theft to the management, but to not interact or stop the thief.

    • Quake 'n' Shake says:

      @snazz: True enough. But the main point is that they’re not checking those who enter to see if they are members. I can’t fault them for not helping chase the guy, but if they’d have done their GD job in the first place, the entire incident would not have occurred.

    • ShiningSquirrel says:

      @snazz:
      I remember when I was working in a retail store years ago.
      They had a policy of not approching any shop lifters for any reason.
      We where told to simply page “Mr. Shields” to the department. We also had a code to page “Mrs. Cross” if thier was a medical problem. Worked great.

    • zjgz says:

      @snazz: Yeah, thats what I was thinking. What could they actually legally do about a their running out?

  10. corkdork says:

    It’s SOP to not stop a thief as an employee. Ditto security guards in most cases (they’re there to observe and report, in general). There’s liability issues on all sides — what if the employee is hurt, what if the accused thief isn’t really a thief, what if the accused gets hurt, etc.

    That being said, limiting access to the locker room seems to make a lot of sense — after all, that’s why you pay a membership fee. I’d have a serious chat with the gym’s manager, requesting better security.

  11. flyromeo3 says:

    Fk the law, if someone steals and you catch them. Beat the shit out of them and deal with it later.

    I hate liars and thieves. You steal from me I will cut your fucken arm off.

    • John Israel says:

      @flyromeo3: “In Iran, it’s hard to snatch a purse if you don’t have another hand.”
      -Chris Rock

      /sits back, waits for fireworks to commence

    • KyleOrton says:

      @flyromeo3: Hahahahaha. This is either the funniest post ever or saddest. My favorite part is when he says “fucken” instead of “fucking” or “fuckin'”. It’s like a smaller, more vulgar turducken.

      In case this was a serious comment (and I pray it isn’t), I’d like to point out that the “deal with it later” is the problem. People who don’t consider the consequences of actions usually end up unheroically in jail talking about how they don’t put up with getting dissed.

      • korybing says:

        @KyleOrton: Now I have the urge to put a fish inside a chicken inside a duck and call it a “fucken”.

        @flyromeo3: That’s all well and good until you get the thief to court and have to throw out all evidence because it was obtained illegally. And then the thief turns around and sues your ass for mistreating him.

        • Kimaroo - 100% Pure Natural Kitteh says:

          @korybing: LOL.. I read your comment at work and I tried so hard not to laugh.. How embarassing.

          Good job : P

      • Waiting4Vizzini says:

        @KyleOrton: When “keeping it real” goes wrong…

      • HogwartsAlum says:

        @KyleOrton:

        I enjoyed your critique of flyromeo3’s post as much as the post! :)

    • fantomesq says:

      @flyromeo3: Aw, hell, the OP isn’t going to risk his life over his property, he figures thats the clerk’s job, the mall security’s job, everyone’s job but his.

      • Megalomania says:

        @fantomesq: Well… I think that when your job title involves “security” it’s hard to make a case where a reasonable person would not assume it is his job.

        • fantomesq says:

          @Megalomania: It doesn’t matter what a reasonable person would think – it only matters what his employers and the police think stopping the guy is the guy’s job. In this case, on the flimsy evidence provided, I stand behind the mallcop 100%. Observe and report.

      • There's room to move as a fry cook says:

        @fantomesq: The OP did scuffle with the thief and follow him out of the building. There are grades of action between tackling the guy and ignoring him. Staff decided to ignore him instead of initiating a conversation (“what’s going on/what seems to the problem”), following him, or phoning the police.

    • West Coast Secessionist says:

      @flyromeo3: All these other guys seem to be dissing you but you earned a heart from me for that comment. I am not a big guy but if I was and caught somebody stealing, I would kick his ass.

      If everybody did that there would be a lot less crime. I assume that’s why there was so much less crime 60 years ago.

  12. R3PUBLIC0N says:

    I was a mall cop for 3 months. For $10 an hour, there was no way in hell I was exposing myself to a false imprisonment lawsuit; particularly because it was made very clear to me that I was to be thrown under the bus should such an incident occur.

    • Verucalise (Est.February2008) says:

      @R3PUBLIC0N: May I ask… what was the point of mall security then?

    • Kaellorian says:

      @R3PUBLIC0N: They can suggest that it’s all your fault all they want – so long as you’re acting within the scope of employment it’s their problem. Now, if you started tackling preteens as they were leaving hollister because you’re not a fan of the shirtless boys in the windows, then yes, it’d be on your head.

      • fantomesq says:

        @Kaellorian: No, as long as you are acting in the right, its their problem. If you tackle someone on some unknown person’s word that someone is a thief (even when the accuser admits he did not see the act!) and you turn out to be wrong, you are liable. When your employer has already stated that they won’t back you up in those cases, what would you do?

        Is playing the hero for someone’s wallet really worth the hassle of the lawsuit and possibly your house?

      • Vanilla5 says:

        @Kaellorian: I have no problem with this. I imagine a clothesline sort of move would work best.

    • Nighthawke says:

      @R3PUBLIC0N: You cannot be labeled a police officer or even a security guard if you cannot detain someone like a badged cop. You might as well be called a security SUPERVISOR.

      • mxjohnson says:

        @Nighthawke: There are cops, and there are citizens. Security guards are citizens. They may have some training, but they have no special policing power. They can place somebody under citizen’s arrest, but so can you or I.

        That sort of detention is typically consensual. People are more likely to consent when the person telling them what to do is wearing a uniform or has some sort of badge, but the uniform, badge and title neither imply nor confer any special policing power.

        If you’re shopping at the mall, and you see somebody shoplifting, and detain them against their will, you can be sued, and charged with false imprisonment. If you were doing the right thing, the DA would probably not charge you, and you’d probably win a lawsuit, but it could still be a hassle. And expensive, too.

        If you work as a security guard, you want an employer who will back you up, pay for your lawyer, and say you were doing what you were trained to do. They make themselves the target of any legal action. Yes, some firms (Disney, for example) do that. Most do not.

        Anyhow, if I’m leaving Best Buy, and the employee at the door orders me to stop and prove I haven’t stolen something, I decline. He can follow me to my car, he can shout, but I don’t have to obey him the way I’m obligated to obey a police officer. If he physically detains me, I will sue him and his employer. And I’ll want criminal charges pressed against them.

        If you grabbed me in some parking lot and dragged me off somewhere, I’d respond the same way, because it’s the same thing.

        So, if you see me running, chased by somebody yelling “Thief!” would you tackle me? Would you risk injury, a lawsuit, and a criminal record just because somebody you don’t know shouted “Thief”?

        (Me, I’d tackle the guy, what the hell. But I wouldn’t blame you for deciding not to.)

        • Skin Art Squared says:

          @mxjohnson: “So, if you see me running, chased by somebody yelling “Thief!” would you tackle me? Would you risk injury, a lawsuit, and a criminal record just because somebody you don’t know shouted “Thief”?”

          There are also laws that work against you if you are witness to a crime and stand by and do nothing or walk away like it never happened.

          Just curious, but (same gym scenario for simplicity) what if the dude was running and the person in chase was yelling “Rape! Stop him!” Does all of what you said still stand? Security guards should do nothing, people should do nothing, etc? Where is the point that responsibility-to-help-your-fellow-human kicks in? Attempted murder maybe?

          • fantomesq says:

            @BZMedia: Um, no, except in very specific instances where you have a preexisting relationship with either the perp or the victim, you are NOT required to do anything for simply having witnessed a crime. In fact, not doing anything in response to witnessing a crime is by far the easiest way to protect yourself against liability. Sad but true.

            There are Good Samaritan laws that protect a third party stepping in to minimize injury or illness but none that I am aware of protect vigilante crime preventers.

            • Skin Art Squared says:

              @fantomesq: “Um, no, except in very specific instances where you have a preexisting relationship with either the perp or the victim, you are NOT required to do anything for simply having witnessed a crime. In fact, not doing anything in response to witnessing a crime is by far the easiest way to protect yourself against liability. Sad but true.”

              Well isn’t that nice & convenient. Glad you’re not REQUIRED to help anyone in this world. We wouldn’t want to be interrupted from our double-shot half-caff lattes and Kindle.

  13. selianth says:

    Do we know that the alleged thief DIDN’T have a gym membership? Maybe they let him in because he had a perfectly valid ID. I read the original article but it’s not made clear.

    • Rectilinear Propagation says:

      @selianth: That was my first reaction to “WSC staff are not doing ID checks on people going into the lockerrooms or entering the gym”. As far as can be told from the article there’s absolutely no reason to do this.

  14. strathmeyer says:

    Haha there’s some story where the owner of my gym got into a scuffle with some cops because he wouldn’t let them in when they had an arrest warrant, so I guess we have pretty good security.

  15. Trance1861 says:

    “What I found most appalling was the fact that a) WSC staff are not doing ID checks on people going into the lockerrooms or entering the gym”

    Did I miss something…. was it confirmed the thief wasn’t a sports club member?

    I don’t blame the employees or the security guards. If someone screamed that someone else was a thief, and I didn’t see that person steal anything, I wouldn’t be tackling or detaining him/her.

  16. sirwired says:

    I’d be furious if I was the gym owner and my front desk employee decided to appoint himself Hero of the Day. The thief was not in danger of hurting anybody, and if my employee got hurt, I would fully expect to be paying out a huge workman’s comp claim and watch my premiums skyrocket.

    If a random member of the public wants to help, great, but it’s a whole crap-load of trouble if an employee helps.

    As another poster pointed out, there have been plenty of businesses that fire employees for chasing shoplifters.

    While crime may offend my sense of justice, I’d much rather just outright hand the victimized gym member a few hundred in cash for the trouble than to have an employee go get in a parking lot brawl.

  17. Princess Leela says:

    This is weird. This is my gym (I was there less than half an hour before this happened). I’m not clear from the original post how he confirmed that they didn’t check the guy’s ID. But the front counter is right at the door, and they always, always ask for your membership card to scan. They don’t just randomly allow people in the door. If it’s true they did in this case, then my first thought is that it could have been an inside job … someone working the counter let his/her cousin/buddy/neighbor in and would get a cut of what he took.

    • fantomesq says:

      @Princess Leela: Its Monday Morning quarterbacking on the OP’s part… because they MAY have let him slip by once without checking ID then SURELY this thief must not have had ID… I don’t think there was anything to show that the guys ID hadn’t been checked.

  18. outlulz says:

    Businesses do nothing to try to stop shoplifting and it sucks. I used to work retail and all the employees and managers knew who all the shoplifters were since we had seen them with our own eyes AND the cameras. Management still would rarely ban them from the store. They could just steal all they wanted because they knew no one would even bother calling the cops since they take 30-45 minutes to show up for a shoplifting call.

  19. Joseph Beck says:

    Yell: “Stop that thief and I’ll bring in my sister for a trial membership!” He would have been gang-tackled before he made it to the front desk.

    • HomersBrain says:

      @Joseph Beck: Nice !……this guy is definitely going to the wrong gym…every gym I’ve gone to has plenty of roid users that would have been itching to tackle a thief !

  20. Bryan Fernandez says:

    WTF is wrong with this country when it’s impossible for employees to stop theft within the places they work at without being sued by the perp? Ugh.

    • corkdork says:

      @Bryan Fernandez: It’s not a worry about being sued by a thief. It’s a liability issue; what if the thief knifes or shoots an employee? If the store policy is “pursue shoplifters,” then the store is responsible for harm to it’s employees in the course of that action.

      Additionally, what if the thief isn’t a thief at all? Then, there’s the risk of false arrest, illegal detention, etc.

      Not many business owners want to deal with that.

    • fantomesq says:

      @Bryan Fernandez: Its not hardly impossible, in fact it happens daily at most large retail establishments but there are very specific requirements that need to be in place before the stop is made to ensure that the store does not incur more liability by stopping the perp.

      These are people out to get something for nothing – if you foiled their attempt at stealing something from the store only to hand them a much bigger win in court, what have you gained?

    • humphrmi says:

      @Bryan Fernandez: Yeah. Damn thieves carrying weapons, what is this country coming to? We should move to some country where they only carry large sheets of paper. And bottles of lemon juice.

    • krista says:

      @Bryan Fernandez: I agree with Corkdork – it’s not so much about being sued by the perp as it is paying out a huge workman’s comp claim, or worse if the employee is killed.

      I got written up once when I worked at 7-11. I was robbed by a guy who didn’t verbally threaten me or have a weapon – he just reached over the counter and held the cash drawer open while he pulled out the money. I said “What the *%$@ are you doing?” and instinctively tried to close the cash drawer. That was “resisting” according to the district manager, so I got a black mark on my record.

      Luckily, it was my manager who wrote up the time I tackled the 17 year old kid who was shoplifting a 12-pack of beer, so that time I escaped a write-up. Me, the bread vendor and the milk vendor sat on him till the cops showed up. Good times :-)

  21. fantomesq says:

    Retail store loss prevention typically have VERY strict guidelines under which they can stop and investigate a customer – usually requires that they actually see the theft/concealment of product, that they monitor the perp at all times between the concealment and leaving the store/property… There is no way for this to have happened here, since cameras are not allowed in the changing rooms (hopefully).

    What if despite your best guesses, this guy had turned out not to be a thief – security stops him based solely upon what you said and finds nothing. Turns out that you were actually angry that the guy stole your parking space or had a grudge against the guy…

    Better to obey the posted signs in the locker rooms and store valuables in the lockers.

  22. madanthony says:

    Aside from the fact that many businesses have policies on not having physical confrontation with thieves, the gym also had no proof that the guy had stolen anything beyond the guy chasing him claiming he was a thief. Even retail stores that do pursue shoplifters require that the employee observe the entire theft process from taking the item, never getting out of site, and leaving the building.

    • econobiker says:

      @madanthony: But remember that taking the “felony run” is a a pretty good cause …

      Anyone not a thief would be yelling “Call the cops on the crazy guy accusing me of stealing from his locker!”

  23. There's room to move as a fry cook says:

    I am stunned that employees at a fitness club aren’t, you know, fit, and able to take on an intruder.

  24. HIV 2 Elway says:

    @flyromeo3: +1
    You took the job as a security guard, provide some security.

    • oloranya says:

      @HIV 2 Elway: Might not be allowed to. My boyfriend’s a security guard and all he’s supposed to do at work is keep an eye on things and call the cops if something happens. He can’t even go outside and tell a bunch of kids they can’t skateboard on the property without getting in hot water with the higher ups, all he can do is watch the camera’s and call the cops.

      Security guards are just a way to keep insurance rates lower, in many cases.

  25. Anonymous says:

    I find it reprehensible that the majority of the posters think that it’s ok to live in a world with zero bystander responsibility. It’s really ridiculous that it’s ok to fire people for helping others. I’m not saying that everyone should be a hero but you shouldn’t be punished for it. So many horrible crimes have occured recently b/c employees just watched. Off the top of my head, there was the rape of a woman on a subway staircase in NYC in view of 2 employees that didn’t even yell out. Then there was the group beating of a woman in target by a whole family of thugs in Mass. She ended up in the hospital. Have we really come to the point where we all sympathize with big business getting sued?

  26. Skin Art Squared says:

    I guess I don’t have a problem with employees not doing a damn thing to stop a thief, as long as they don’t mind when I take him out myself. Anyone bold enough to steal from me and gets caught in the act like that, is going to be needing a ton of dental reconstruction.

    • KyleOrton says:

      @BZMedia: And that’s fine as long as you don’t mind being charged with assault.

      • Rectilinear Propagation says:

        @KyleOrton: Or getting shot in the face.

      • Skin Art Squared says:

        @KyleOrton: “And that’s fine as long as you don’t mind being charged with assault.”

        Nope. I don’t mind. Been there, done that. Never had a problem with it. The guys I caught trying to steal my Harley just went to jail, after I held them there till the cops finally showed up. But the idiot that tried to steal my truck got a baseball bat to the teeth. The guy I caught stealing my wallet ended up missing a large chunk of flesh from his face. Being charged and being convicted are worlds apart.

    • fantomesq says:

      @BZMedia: or losing your house over it if you’re wrong.

  27. Trae says:

    Clearly none of these employees ever read Spider-man.

    Everytime you let a thief go, your favorite uncle gets murdered. :P

    • AdviceDog says:

      @Trae: With great power comes great responsibility. And with $8-10/hr and an undeserved sense of entitlement comes great lethargy.

  28. redkamel says:

    If security people cant do anything why do they carry pepper spray, etc? Thats really silly.

    I would be pissed if no one at my store did anything to stop a thief. At least stand in his way or lock the door. Gym locker robbers are a huge PITA and make everyone’s life hell. And its why I only take the barest ID and my keys if I have to go to a gym, and they stay on me. Tip: you can store a car key safely on your shoe if you put the last lace through the keyring hole and then place the rest under laces.

  29. msbask says:

    Did the OP really expect the girl at the desk to run after the (alleged) thief?

  30. Heresy_Fnord says:

    This is our legal system these days. If the staff intervened, they can actually be sued by the thief if he/she gets hurt. If you tackle a guy who has robbed your store, you can actually be arrested for it. It’s because we’ve allowed criminals to become victims while they are being criminals. Nothing to see here, move along…

  31. Vanilla5 says:

    I hear “Stop! Thief” and immediately think of Semi (Arsenio Hall) in Coming to America:

    Semi: Stop! Thief!
    Prince Hakeem: Semi, Semi – let him go.
    Semi: But those things BELONG to us!
    Prince Hakeem: We are well rid of those things. Let them wear our princely robes. We’re in New York now. Let us dress as New Yorkers.

    Anyway – I’m glad he was (eventually) able to get he guy stopped and get his wallet back. I’d be writing a letter to the corporate offices of the gym and the owners of the mall – who I’m sure will be “taking it seriously.”

  32. kexline says:

    Why is everyone commenting that it’s not the staff’s job to physically stop a thief? Is it also unreasonable to expect them to, you know, PICK UP A PHONE? This is yet another case of employees refusing to call 911.

    • Rectilinear Propagation says:

      Why is everyone commenting that it’s not the staff’s job to physically stop a thief?

      @kexline: Because that’s what the OP expected them to do.

      I told the towel attendant to stop him, and he did nothing. I chased the thief as he was leaving and shouted, “This man is a thief, he has stolen people’s wallets from the locker room.” Again the WSC staff couldn’t have been more bored. The young woman at the reception desk let him go out.

      But I will agree that the employees could have called the cops.

    • Rectilinear Propagation says:

      @kexline: I was wondering if maybe the employees did call the cops but look what I found in the comments for the article:

      I would like to correct a point in the previous post: the manager at WSC asked if I would like them to call the police. From that appeared to me they had not already done so.

      *facepalm*

  33. RCheli says:

    Look, you all are making a lot of excuses here. Nobody thinks that someone, policy or not, should’ve tried to stop him? So if he was running out of the gym and a woman was screaming that the guy had just raped her, you’d just let him go? Does that warrant the employees getting off their asses?
    This is not being a hero, people. This is merely getting in the way of him, slowing him down, asking for his gym id… something.

  34. Anonymous says:

    Sadly, IÊ»ve had a very similar incident at the 24hourfitness in Hollywood. Those guys were just as blase. DidnÊ»t end up catching the guy, so I went to the club manager. I tried getting him to at least be able to review security tapes. And he wouldnÊ»t let me see them. Then he told me that corporate would contact me, because corporate told him not to get involved. he just took my name down and theyÊ»ve never contacted me ever. Went to the police filed a report, and come to find out itÊ»s been more then one gym, and 24hrfit, was the least cooperative in the policeÊ»s investigation. “Fucken” great!… I still go because I paid 3 years in advace to take advantage of the savings, boiled down to $18 a month. But lesson is, NEVER lock your stuff up. Bring a small bag with you, and lug it with you when you work out. When one of the staff people tell you to lock your bag up… tell them to f off.

  35. boyonabike says:

    If I was the towel guy or the front desk girl, I wouldn’t chase down a potentially dangerous thief, either. I would probably laugh at anyone who thought it was part of my job to risk my life for whatever I was getting paid.

  36. ZManGT says:

    I’m confused. All that this guy really saw was a man in a gym closing his bag, he noticed his lock is changed so he immediately assumes this guy is a thief and wants to see his stuff.

    • fantomesq says:

      @ZManGT: Exactly. You’re not confused at all.

    • Rectilinear Propagation says:

      @ZManGT: In the article the OP says he saw the guy opening lockers with a bolt cutter but without a staff member present.

      He went back in after locking up his stuff because he couldn’t shake the feeling that something was “off” and that’s when he found that his lock had been changed.

      • fantomesq says:

        @Rectilinear Propagation: Yeah, which is what makes this part of the story unlikely… He sees a non-employee opening multiple lockers with bolt cutters and still leaves his wallet, phone and computer in a locker… It doesn’t ring true.

    • schernoff says:

      @ZManGT: Yes, the OP saw that his own lock had been removed and replaced with another one. I don’t know about anyone else, but that would make me a bit suspicious about the intent of the person sitting next to my locker.

  37. LatherRinseRepeat says:

    And this is why I don’t use the lockers at my gym. We’ve had several locker break-ins. I either leave stuff locked in my car trunk, or I bring it all with me in backpack.

  38. BytheSea says:

    But what’s the point of a gym membership and a staff if you’re completely on your own once you get there?

    Yeah, that’s pretty much how it is at my gym. (La Fitness.) The place is run by teenagers and meatheads who either play on the internet or upsell new customers. There’s no one on the floor all day. They’re relying on the open plan architecture to keep people safe from injury, mugging or rape, and theft. If there were any corners or nooks, I would not feel safe there.

  39. Anonymous says:

    I was robbed in a WSC three years ago. When I notified the WSC manager he said, “did you check all the lockers?” when I said my lock was on the wrong locker he said, “are you sure”. he finally cut the lock and we found the locker empty. I asked if they had a security camera and he replied, “No. But this has been happening at other WSC’s in the City”. I was in my gym clothes, it was february and they did NOTHING to get me home/back to work or provide me with weather appropriate clothing. A year or so later when I went back to quit the gym the guy working the front desk said, “hey. i know you”. He went into an office and came back with my wallet that was stolen. There was no phone call, no email, not even an attempt to get in touch with me. I would seriously consider cancelling your membership and finding a more secure gym.

  40. Tankueray says:

    I just looked into a new gym in town. They have two “changing rooms” and everyone puts their things into open cubicles instead of lockers. There is no membership check at the door during normal business hours. (It’s a 24 hr gym so after hours you have a passkey.) I was really concerned about not being able to lock my things up. After voicing my concerns, the owner told me to just keep my stuff in my car. Not all the parking is visible from the windows and there is a large restaurant next door. Any half-brained thief would think of this as a gold mine, no?

    And when I told the owner I would not be letting them draft from my checking account, he said “well, usually the only people that worry about that are the ones that can’t cover their bills.” He obviously has never read this site.

    After I completed my trial membership, they have been calling constantly to get me to sign up. Very annoying. Glad I gave them a Ring Central number.

  41. econobiker says:

    Judging from the original report the thief probably cut off the guy’s lock and then put one other already cut ones back on to make it look “ok”.

    And some of the commentors on the original report list the same issues pointed out- staff who are clueless/not caring, lack of entry scanning security, etc plus other reports of the same crime mo in the same clubs…

  42. IronCrow says:

    They all have that sign that says anything left in the locker is “….fair game for thieves and we don’t care” although I think they word it a bit more lawyery.

  43. KyleOrton says:

    @Nighthawke: Ok, then I guess they should be called security supervisors? The only people who can legally detain someone like a badged cop is, ummm, a badged cop.

    They can do lots of things you and I or mall security can’t do. Mall security or other security guards can’t get a search warrant either.

  44. gerrylum says:

    @BZMedia: Attempted murder? That would make me even LESS inclined to get involved. If the guy already tried to kill someone, who’s to say he wouldn’t try again if I tried to stop him?

    Even in lesser situations, you never know these days if someone is going to pull a knife or gun. I may go and comfort and assist the victim, but I don’t know if I’m prepared to risk my own life unless I can clearly see someone else’s life is in clear and present danger.

  45. Skin Art Squared says:

    We are truly a nation of sheep.

  46. KyleOrton says:

    @BZMedia: Wouldn’t you be more helpful to that person by coming to their aid, calling paramedics and following the instructions of the 911 operator?

    This isn’t medieval Europe; your greatest responsibility isn’t to avenge someone’s dishonor.

    • Skin Art Squared says:

      @KyleOrton: “This isn’t medieval Europe; your greatest responsibility isn’t to avenge someone’s dishonor.”

      It’s not about defending anyone’s honor dude. It’s about doing the right thing and helping people when they need it. Not offering up some worthless sympathy after the fact.
      If you go outside to the parking lot of the restaurant / gym / store and a woman or kid is screaming “Help!” and trying to resist being stuffed into a car, you’re going to stand and do nothing?
      If some a-hole is beating up on his girl for all to see, you’re going to allow that to happen?
      If you witness some guy grab the old lady’s purse in front of you, you’re going to put your arm on her shoulders and tell her how awful you feel it must be to be her right now?

      Grow a spine.

      I’m really glad I don’t rely on the fine citizens of this country for help when I need it. If you enjoy walking around with “Victim” stamped on your forehead, that’s your business.

  47. pot_roast says:

    Yup. As everybody else has said, the laws basically protect the criminals. Security is just there to “observe and report” – they can be breaking the law if they chase and detain a suspected crook since they did not see the crime actually taking place. That is key. YOU saw it, but THEY did not, and cannot even initiate a citizen’s arrest.

  48. dequeued says:

    A possible explanation for how the perp got in without his barcode keychain:

    I work for TSI, the parent company of WSC, and I have been to dozens of clubs to upgrade or test new software for them.

    Whenever we have to take a front-desk computer offline, or a scanner or computer malfunctions in the front desk, the front-desk employee simple writes down the member’s name and verifies it later (or doesn’t verify it later)

    They use crappy metrologic scanners that fail frequently — maybe their scanner was broken.

    Or, it’s relatively easy to get a temporary guest membership for free.
    I got one without filling out any forms or even giving them my name — granted, they knew I worked for tsi, but it probably couldn’t have been that hard to get a temporary guest id.

  49. Sarcasmo48 says:

    Still. Time was, you saw someone stealing, you ran his ass down. Nowadays, we live in a world where you can shoplift, have someone touch your arm to stop you and sue for damages. Hell a thief can slip off your roof and sue you. That’s how effed this country’s civil court system is. I get liability. But still. There’s virtually no deterrence, and the lawyers advertise every third commercial in some parts of the country.

  50. LSAX says:

    This is the same franchise that let a woman die in one of its New York clubs. The employees wouldn’t let anyone get near her, meanwhile the AED (useable by most untrained people and required by law to be in every gym) would have saved her life.

  51. Princess Leela says:

    Update: Was back at the gym last night and they had a sign up at the counter informing members about what happened. It said the guy WAS a member, and that his membership has been revoked. So either a)all the talk about them letting someone in without an ID was wrong and the OP was confused/making shit up, or b)the gym managers are the ones making shit up, to cover their asses. Hmm.

  52. AdviceDog says:

    You could write to your local municipalities and try to revoke the laws that protect the criminals in these incidents. Or to write new laws to protect well-meaning good Samaritans, so that if someone decided to trip this potential thief or clothesline him or use any one of their magical vigilante Bat-gadgets, that the person shouting “Thief” catches all the flak.

    “I didn’t know he was going to drop-kick that guy and break his arm so that it goes in 3 unnatural directions when I cried ‘Triple-homicide-rapist-petty-larceny-thief!'”
    “Well, now you’ll think twice, eh?”

    Hell, I took a First-Aid/CPR class and first half of the first class consisted of our teacher telling us how he was brought into court for using an AED on a woman having a heart attack. Why? Because, the technological wonder known as the automated emergency defibrillator doesn’t work through clothes and he had to rip open the center part or her shirt (to place the pads on the top right part of the breast and the left side of the torso). He was brought up on sexual harassment charges by the husband.

    The charges were ultimately dropped by the judge without it going to court. The woman was grateful and had no part in pressing charges. Considering she had a nipple piercing and electricity + metal in flesh = burn, you’d think she’d have more of an actual case and therefore it’s worth pursuing.

    He saved a life and all he got for it was a bullseye on his back. Granted, he must have felt some vindication and a sense of well-being when he heard about how the judge told his lawyer, “Don’t even bring him in for this crap.” But we live in a litigation-happy culture that encourages this frivolous crap.

  53. Vanessa Hofmann says:

    Tried to add this to my comment but the link didn’t come out so here is the redo:

    Seriously they have no problem acting like they are one fabulous gift when they are
    trying to sell you something or trying to get you to join! God forbid they make themselves useful when someone else needs it.

  54. Anonymous says:

    Theft at WSC is a constant problem — I have to believe it’s often due to inside jobs, or people who get trial memberships in order to get in the locker room.

    When my pants (with wallet inside) were stolen a couple years back, I tried to get my WSC to reimburse me for the lost cash ($40). No dice. WSC isn’t responsible for anything you bring into the gym.

    Fortunately it was summer, so walking home in my shorts wasn’t so bad. But I did like those pants.

    Everyone should quit. WSC sucks it.

  55. Will Sellheim says:

    This happened to me a week and a half prior and the staff were of no help. My lock was replaced with another and the guy made it out to Best Buy and Target to spend a couple K. I am still dealing with getting all of things in my wallet replaced. The people at WSC were no help, I had them break open the locker when the gym closed that night to find that my phone and keys were still in there. That day another guy reported the same thing happening to him. I have recently asked WSC what they are going to do to show some appreciation for those of us that got our lockers broken into, I have yet to hear back. If my stuff had not been locked I don’t think I would be this mad but the fact that there was someone in the locker room doing this for WEEKS is mind-blowing. They need to find a way to acknowledge the victims.

  56. edededed says:

    Society is not composed of a set of agents willing to do our bidding whenever we shout and carry on. Nothing makes this more clear than when you move to a city in the Northeast (DC qualifies) and run into any problem whatsoever.**

    Sure, this is disheartening at first – but it’s also a bit assuming to believe you have a relationship with corporate pawns. Look, I’m also disappointed that nobody helped out their fellow man – but this is symptom of a few other problems: including of course, law & order; but probably more directly, the consequences of our capitalist society. There’s a very real cost in not consuming at your local mom & pop shop (where you have some actual influence on the supply/service). That does not disappear at their staff, esp. if you’re expecting they’d help out for some reason.

    I mean, maybe my take sounds liberal or communist at first, but I’d actually suggest the broader solution is to get over this romantic ethic that prevents our people from exchanging cash when helping one another. It’s certainly cheaper than sourcing it to worthless security guards and letting the government take a cut. ***

    I’m also suggesting we take direct action action in what we consume (instead of rolling over) whenever a company has an oversight in services, compassion, or security towards one of our own. That means consumerist.com, but it also means creating some standards (like ‘bill of rights’ or expectations) and directing somebody in charge to them, instead of shopping there without a fight.

    In this very specific case, this is what I suspect will happen: The individual escalated the matter enough that the Manager might either enforce some Draconian rule to help the existing customers feel protected; or, he might do something nice for the individual in question, but make no improvement. It’s also possible that media like cosumerist could generate enough publicity that the chain might publish some worthless letter and pretend to implement something, but really just capitalize on the free advertising.

    Here’s what could happen though: The individual could seek advice from a forum at a place like consumerist. A letter with proposed expectations could be sent to the club manager and higher up the chain. The letter could be published on consumerist and the response could be as well. More extreme cases could provide financial considerations for the company, a venue for dialogue, and the thread of boycott.

    I mean, the fact is, consumers are better positioned to demand what we want as a consensus in the form of a written document, than a company is to guess and market to us. The real problem is that we’d have to actually be committed and it’s more convenient to whine about it on blogs while getting paid.

    **Watch a film like Metropolis if you want some red propoganda.

    *** This is not something that can change overnight, but consider returning the favor when somebody with only pure intentions helps you out on the side of the road.