If you visit a sports or fitness facility of any kind then you will probably be using the changing rooms. In an ideal world this would be a safe place to leave your personal possessions but we don’t live in an ideal world and locker room theft is extremely common in public facilities, private clubs, schools and colleges. Sadly even a lock can be no barrier to the experienced thief so how do you avoid becoming a victim?
Only Take What You Have To
Clearly it is better to leave valuables at home but that isn’t always an option. If you are at school or visit the gym on the way back from work then you will have to leave valuables somewhere. Drivers are best using the boot of their car. Cars do get broken into too but this is a harder task for a thief than springing a locker. However, you can’t leave your car keys in the car so you will need to think about those if nothing else.
Line of Sight
If possible take most valuable items like mobile phones, tablets, wallets and keys with you wherever you go and keep them in your line of sight at all times. This shouldn’t be a problem in the gym or when playing badminton or tennis but you can’t really ski with a laptop or box with a bunch of keys in your pocket!
Use the lockers
If you have no option other than to leave valuables in the changing room then at least use the lockers. Lockers are sometimes broken into but at least offer a little protection. It is incredible how often you see possessions left on benches just begging to be taken! Choose a locker that is close to the door, near attendants or in a busy section of the changing room. Most thieves will target the areas where they are least likely to be seen. Some lockers are secured with a padlock. If that is the case then take your own lock for additional protection.
If you have valuables with you then don’t make it obvious. Try not to use your phone or laptop in public view before you stow them and remember than flashy bags and accessories are a flag to thieves that rich pickings could be inside. You may enjoy the kudos of a smart gym bag but it just might get you targeted. Kids at school can benefit from using personalised kit bags as many young thieves won’t be interested in snatching something with someone else’s name on it.
Report all Crime
If the worse does happen and you are a victim of theft then report the incident to the facility immediately. They may have security cameras to help identify offenders and other visitors can be warned about what has happened.
You can never fully protect yourself against thieves in locker rooms but you can reduce your chances of becoming a victim. Leave as few valuables as possible, even in lockers, and always remain vigilant. If you see anyone behaving suspiciously then don’t hesitate to report this. It doesn’t matter if you are wrong and you could save yourself or someone else from becoming another victim.
Article by Sally Stacey