Lockers raided as thieves target two Stoke-on-Trent gyms on same day
SECURITY is being stepped up at two gyms after thieves raided lockers and stole hundreds of pounds worth of property.
A number of break-ins were reported at PureGym centres in Fenton and Etruria, on the same day within a couple of hours of one another.
Now the national gym company has confirmed staff have been told to improve security after nine members were targeted.
Police are also monitoring CCTV footage in a bid to track down the culprits, who stole phones, wallets and car keys.
John Hammersley had gone for his weekly workout at the Fenton branch in Victoria Road on Monday night when his locker was raided.
The 45-year-old, of Eaton Park, said: "I was shocked when I discovered my new Blackberry 9320 Curve phone had been stolen because it seemed like a secure place to leave your belongings when you go for a workout.
"To get into the gym, you have to put an access code in a keypad, and I had bought a padlock from the gym and put it on my locker. I have a combination on the padlock as well.
"I had come back from the showers when I discovered my phone had been taken from my jacket pocket.
"I saw a man next to me searching through his belongings and he told me that his phone was missing and another man said that the money had been stolen from his wallet, as well."
Six people reported valuables being taken from their lockers at the Fenton gym between 7pm and 8pm.
These included cash, wallets, a watch and mobile phones including a Samsung Galaxy S, three Blackberrys, an Apple Iphone 4S, a Samsung Galaxy Acer and a HTC Wildfire. At the gym in Etruria, three people had two Apple Iphones, cash and the keys to a member's van taken.
John said: "I was told by a member of staff at my gym that the same thing had happened at the Etruria branch in Etruria Way. It makes me question the security of the lockers at the gym seeing as so many people had things stolen. It seems like the lockers are just not fit for purpose."
A PureGym spokesman said: "We are doing all we can to assist the police with the investigation, and have been able to provide the police with CCTV footage which includes images of the suspects.
"Security screening and monitoring has been stepped up at both gyms in Stoke-on-Trent, as well as at other PureGyms across the North West, and management are now doing additional checks of the changing rooms to help ensure that something of this nature does not happen again.
"We are also urging all customers to be vigilant, and if they see any suspicious behaviour while in the club to alert a member of staff immediately."
A Staffordshire Police spokesman said: "We received reports of theft from gyms in Victoria Road, Fenton, and Etruria, on the evening of Monday, February 18.
"Inquiries are ongoing into both incidents and any possible links between them."
Anyone with information is asked to contact police on 101, quoting incident number 803 of February 18.