Photo by Haley Ausbun. The LA Fitness at the Landing.

Photo by Haley Ausbun. The LA Fitness at the Landing.

Public can help reduce the number of thefts at shopping centers

Renton Police Department get the word out on prevention, and public express concern about gym thefts

Renton residents have expressed concern with thefts at gyms in Renton. Since August, eight police reports have been filed regarding stolen property at the LA Fitness in the Landing.

“Everybody is kind of on high alert there,” said Candis O’Rear, who had her vehicle stolen outside the LA Fitness.

O’Rear said she had a twisted wire lock that may have been easier to cut. She said her keys were taken from the locker and found down a dirt road in Auburn where more than 180 stolen vehicles were found last year. There was nothing in the car but pillows, a skateboard and other personal items found in the car, next to a sign for no loitering.

Since then she has warned other members and has noticed fewer items in the women’s locker room and more out in the classes with her, including along the pool during water aerobics.

According to police reports, three of the reports come from August and the other five from September at LA Fitness. Six of the reports are from the men’s locker room, at least four of them including a secured locker being broken into. One victim’s wallet had $3,300 inside in cash.

Theft from lockers can be prevented, said Sandra Havlik, Renton police Community Programs Coordinator. Since gyms cannot always prevent thefts and members often must provide their own lock, Havlik recommends using a discus or disk-type lock. It has less exposure to the shackle which makes it harder to cut or tamper with, unlike traditional locks or twisted wire locks.

In one police report from Sept. 11, where nothing was taken from inside the gym, someone’s car window was smashed. There was nothing valuable inside the car or taken.

Havlik said reducing theft from vehicles comes down to removing all visible items.

“For example, we may think a bag of dirty clothes in the back of our car has no value, but someone with criminal intent in mind does not know it’s a bag of dirty clothes or even an empty bag. They just see a bag that may have something of value in it,” Havlik said. “Next thing you know, they get the empty bag but you now have a broken window costing you some money out of your pocket and a big inconvenience.”

In one police report, the officer stated as of Sept. 5, the LA Fitness did not have a camera system in the gym. The manager of the gym directed the Reporter to headquarters for questions regarding if a camera system was currently in place. LA Fitness did not respond to request for comment.

The Landing LA Fitness is closed from Oct. 15 to Oct. 26, because they will be doing a remodel of the facility. They did not specify if it involved any safety measures.

According to crimereports.com, using Renton Police Department data, 37 incidents at or around Target and 30 at or around Fry’s Electronics that consist of property crime and theft also occurred since August at the Landing. In total, 132 property incidents have occurred at the Landing since August and 21 of them since Oct. 1.

“It’s common nationwide that theft from vehicles is typically higher at workout centers, movie theaters, shopping centers and parking garages,” Havlik said.

The Landing has teamed up with Havlik to provide brochures to the security department and hand them out to Landing customers, as part of an awareness campaign.

“The Landing has been excellent to work with, in teaming up with me against this type of crime and reduce this type of theft in our city,” she said.

Other gyms in the Renton city limits each saw about two cases of property incidents from the same August to Oct. 15 time frame. CrimeReports includes theft, theft from vehicle, property crime, theft of a vehicle, and breaking and entering as property incidents.

According to trends in the Landing area using CrimeReports, property incidents began to hike in early summer, resulting in consistent incidents since then. These trends are also seen generally in Renton. But thefts from vehicles have reduced in recent years.

In 2016 Renton police had 1,667 reports of theft from vehicles and 1,488 in 2017. For 2018 so far there’s been 1,043, Havlik said. She said criminals have not stopped trying this type of theft, but that it’s decreased because of community education and more people paying attention to what’s left in their vehicle.

According to CrimeReport in the last six months, property crimes have averaged 54.3 a month at the Landing. August had 65 property incidents around the Landing and it slowed to 48 in September.

The police reports from LA Fitness varied in time of day when the theft occurred, but in Renton overall most property incidents occur around 6 and 8 p.m., according to CrimeReports.

O’Rear said LA Fitness told her they would talk about the thefts if police came to the gym, but that they knew a few had happened. The manager of the Landing LA Fitness told Renton Reporter all the policy information for stolen items is disclosed to members.

O’Rear worries other members expect LA Fitness to call the police once they tell employees about a theft and don’t do it themselves.

“A Renton officer told me to tell everyone to report: stay (at the gym) and call the police. This way there’s a point of contact at the gym,” O’Rear said.

Havlik said by reporting these types of crimes, victims can report online or with an officer in person. Online can be done through epolice.rentonwa.gov. Theft of anything over $1,500 in value, or including suspect information, should be called in with 911 or the non-emergency line 425-235-2121 so an officer can intake it.

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