How to Fight Back Against Locker Room Theft

Locker room theft is a real problem for health clubs, but there are some measures you can take to stay a step ahead of the bad guys.

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We go through a lot of trouble to protect our property. Home security systems are big business. You may even have one yourself. Research firm MarketsandMarkets estimates that Americans spent over $34 billion on safeguarding their property in 2017. 

That staggering statistic makes more sense when you consider the range of home security products and systems available. The days of slapping up a “Beware of Dog” sign just won’t cut it anymore. Doorbell cameras connected to apps, motion detector devices, live video monitoring, electric current alarms—the market is flooded with options that range from familiar door-panel codes to 24-hour surveillance systems. Installing advanced technology can be costly, but piece of mind is worth the price for most people.

Now, think about health club security. Club owners don’t have as many high-tech options for protecting locker rooms from theft. For one, video cameras aren’t allowed, and expensive systems can be cost-prohibitive for many owners with slim margins.

That’s a problem since thieves are well aware of the vulnerabilities of gym locker rooms. According to an article in the Washington Post about the increasing problem of security in health clubs: “Locker rooms are smorgasbords of unattended jewelry, electronics, credit cards and cash, but they don’t have security cameras and often are designed to allow for privacy.”

You need to stay a step—or several—ahead of the bad guys.

“Club owners don’t have as many high-tech options for protecting locker rooms from theft. For one, video cameras aren’t allowed, and expensive systems can be cost-prohibitive for many owners with slim margins.”

Beyond the Human Element

Locker room theft can have a devastating effect on retention and brand reputation. While you have to allow that some people can be reckless and irresponsible when securing their valuables, clubs are expected to do everything they can to make their members feel secure.

First, make sure you implement these common sense tips for improving security:

  • Front-desk staff should make eye contact with all patrons as they enter and exit, and check the identification of all guests—identification is a powerful crime deterrent.
  • Have staff conduct frequent, random sweeps of locker rooms.
  • Remind patrons to lock their lockers and to not bring valuable items into the club.

Your staff, no matter how vigilant, can only do so much when it comes to monitoring members, especially if you have a high-traffic club. Dedicated thieves know how to get past the front desk—some even go so far as to join as members under false names before cleaning out lockers.

Once they make it inside, thieves are able to gain quick access to the locker room smorgasbord. Standard locking equipment is easy prey, even with rudimentary tools. There are even tutorials online that demonstrate how to break into padlocks!

You need effective hardware that can be the last line of defense from invaders, something technologically advanced that repels even professional thieves.

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Lock and Load

While you can’t take advantage of some of the video technology in locker rooms and other key areas of your club, you can still obtain advanced locking systems that can not only deliver unparalleled security, but also enhance your brand by proving to members that you take their safety seriously. In the process of improving your locker room security, you can also bring a higher level of protection to other areas of your club, if you pick the right partner—especially one who can set up individualized solutions.

One exciting player in the health-club security sector is OJMAR, an international company with over 90 years of experience in creating advanced locking systems. While OJMAR produces locks for numerous applications, even office furniture, their NEXO NLX1 real-time system offers the highest security in the market, including:

  • Real-time alarm reporting. If anyone tries to break into a locker an alarm will be activated (audible/visible) on the locker and a warning will be sent to the front desk. It identifies the locker number while a red light flashes.
  • Recorded monitoring. Everything is recorded on their Spherio software: locker number, time, user credential.
  • Alarm warnings. In case a user does not close the locker properly an alarm will sound and the warning will be sent to the front desk. This helps those users who neglect to properly close their lockers.
  • Real-time user permission and credential cancellation. If a master or service key is lost, which compromises facility security, they can be deleted in real-time remotely.

Best of all, OJMAR offers 24-hour technical service in the U.S., so if you have any questions, they are on call to help you find solutions to your security issues. To find out more about OJMAR, visit their website or email them at lockerlocks@ojmar.com.

Jim Schmaltz

Jim Schmaltz is a contributor to IHRSA.org