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!)