Gym thefts on the rise since 2010

When Joel Campbell, junior in Engineering, went to the ARC one late afternoon, he expected to have an ordinary workout — until his cellphone vanished.

“I went to go swim laps, and I had my cellphone when I was in the locker room and I was changing,” he said. “But when I got back, I didn’t have my phone.”

As soon as he discovered that his Samsung Galaxy S was missing Aug. 29, he and ARC employees searched the building but could not find the smartphone.

Already this year, the number of thefts from Campus Recreation facilities matches the number of reports made in all of 2010. From Jan. 1 to Sept. 19, 39 thefts were reported. But reported thefts appear to be increasing.

According to University police detective Robert Murphy, 58 thefts were reported in 2011.

“It goes up and down — it fluctuates like everything else,” he said.

About 7,000 people visit campus recreation facilities every day, said Erik Riha, assistant director of marketing at Campus Recreation. Riha said not everyone who comes in is trustworthy, so even though the ARC and CRCE have hundreds of cameras within the buildings and plan on educating students on how to secure their valuables, people should still have a watchful eye.

In one theft case at the ARC, Murphy said one student placed his phone on a bench under a security camera while he played basketball. He thought he would be able to watch it, but his phone was stolen anyway.

Murphy said people think they will be able to watch their valuables, but that is not always the case. Although it is not the individual’s fault when theft occurs, that person still needs to take some of that responsibility, Murphy said.

“We do have a lot of thefts in the ARC, as well as the other campus recreational facilities,” he said. “The main reason behind this is people do not lock their valuables in the lockers, and when they do lock them up, they use combinations such as 1-1-1-1 or 1-2-3-4.”

It’s important to report theft right away, Murphy said.

“Report it at the very, very, very least to the people who work at ARC and CRCE,” Murphy said. “A lot of times, they get turned in to the front desk, and they don’t know whose it is.”

He said it is especially hard to find the owner of a smartphone because of lock settings.

“If your cellphone is locked, we can’t call anybody on it,” Murphy said. “A lot of the time, you can just push redial and call the last number on the cellphone. But now, everyone is getting a smartphone, and they’re password protected.”

He said the police department is trying to collaborate with Apple to find owners of stolen and lost iPhones, but Murphy said students should leave their valuables at home.

Murphy also said thefts happen fast, so everyone should report suspicious activity right away.

“Don’t just walk away. If you are a good witness for something … call 911 and report it.” he said.

_Carina can be reached at [email protected]_