Thieves strike locker rooms of fitness centers

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — Just because a gym locker is locked, doesn’t mean the contents inside are safe. Members of some Western New York LA Fitness centers know that now.

The gym has experienced more than a half-dozen break-ins at Amherst, Clarence and Buffalo locations.  Several police agencies are investigating. Lt.Tracy Martin, of the Amherst Police Department, said the rash of locker break-ins is troubling.

“People are putting their valuables into the lockers and expecting that it’s going to be safe after their workout, and they’re coming back and the locks are broken or the door is broken,” she said.

Bryan Krempa, an LA Fitness member who works out four times a week said “You’re paying a good premium for membership and you want to be able to feel safe with your stuff, so it is important.”

Back in August, State Police say Eric Dabney broke into gym lockers in Orchard Park, Amherst and Cheektowaga. Dabney is now in custody in New Jersey, facing a slew of federal charges.  He is believed to have operated in at least six states.

New York State Police Investigator Ryan Shanahan said Dabney “would enter the locker room…cut the lock… rummage through everybody’s belongings, take the valuables.  He would take the credit cards out of their wallet and any cash. Then he would replace the lock with a lock of his own, put it on the locker, which would buy him more time.”

Investigator Shanahan believes Alan Scheff of Clarence Center was one of Dabney’s victims.

Scheff said he had a lot of valuables stolen out of his locker.

“I had $500  in cash in my pocket because I was supposed to be on vacation that day, and my Cartier watch, all my credit cards,” he said.

Martin said people who use a gym should leave ample time when planning to go to the gym.

“Leave your personal stuff behind so that you can stop after your workout, (go) back home and grab your personal items and not risk…having them taken from your locker…”

LA Fitness did not return phone calls inquiring as to if preventative measures are being taken.

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