Glens Falls, Ny — Two men suspected of carrying out 16 robberies at the Family YMCA of the Glens Falls Area (NY) were recently arrested thanks in part to cameras installed at the Y. Since April, Glens Falls police say the thieves had stolen cash, car keys and credit cards from both locked and unlocked lockers, and had broken into cars parked outside the Y.
Increased security and media attention helped catch the robbers, says Y CEO David Kisselback. Since the break-ins, the Y has invested in new lockers that are harder to force open and a camera surveillance system, which cost the Y $110,000.
“The break-ins were sporadic, and we realized that we needed to put modern lockers in, too,” Kisselback says. “We had budgeted for a video system as well.”
The cameras captured a clear image of the two thieves, which was instrumental in their arrest, he says. While many Ys and health clubs may be reluctant to publicize theft at their facility, it's important to get the word out, he says.
Images of the thieves were broadcast on local television and published in the local paper. The two men soon after confessed to the thefts.
“Police pushed us to make this a public issue, but the news did it in a positive way,” he says.
In response to the thefts, the Y changed its day-pass policy, photographing all non-members who purchase a day pass.
“This wasn't just a single incident. They would buy a day pass and play basketball, which is very common for us. These men were very friendly and knew exactly what they were doing,” he says.
Keeping the 81,000-square-foot facility's 10,000 members — along with the Y's staff members — aware of the situation was key as well.
“You have to keep members informed of what's going on and have them be more aware of what's going on in their surroundings,” Kisselback recommends to other fitness facility operators. “Get your staff members walking around more, and if something happens, don't be afraid to go to the police or go to the local newspaper. That will deter people.”