Wallets getting thinner as thieves hit Eastside gyms

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by ERIC WILKINSON / KING 5 News

KING5.com

Posted on May 14, 2014 at 6:52 PM

ISSAQUAH, Wash.—The post-work work out crowd on the Eastside is getting muscled out by thieves.

While they’re lifting weights, robbers are lifting their wallets - not from their cars in the parking lot, but from their locked lockers.

“I would never have guessed that it would happen here,” said Chris Sundesten, a regular at the Issaquah Gold’s Gym.

Over the past three weeks big name gyms like Gold’s, LA Fitness and 24 Hour Fitness have been targeted in Issaquah, Kirkland and Redmond. The thieves have simply popped cheap locks in the locker rooms when no one was looking. At least a dozen people are believed to have fallen victim. In all the cases the thieves took only cash from the pockets of people coming home from work or on the weekends.

“That’s probably why they’re coming here is this is an affluent area and they’re hoping they’ll cash in on that,” said John Hamilton, owner of three Gold’s Gyms on the Eastside.

Club owners are stuck in a precarious position. They have security cameras inside and out, but the thefts are happening in locker rooms where they are forbidden. Police are looking at surveillance video of people they’ve labeled “suspicious,” but so far haven’t been able to make any arrests.

“Unless you catch them in the act, there’s not much you can do,” said Hamilton.

For now, Hamilton is doing all he can to protect his customers, adding additional security and making sure everyone who enters his gyms have their membership cards checked.

Now that the word is out, police believe the thieves may just move to gyms elsewhere.  

Customers, meanwhile, are left wondering whether locking up their valuables while they work out is an exercise in futility.

“You put a lock on it so you assume it’s safe,” said Sundesten. “I guess nothing is safe these days anymore.”
 

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