Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Beware of Fitness First Robbers sponsored by Syndicate Groups



I've been a member of Fitness First for quite some time and have heard of several unfortunate incidents concerning lost items of members. Lucky enough, I haven't been a victim (and hoping will never be).

The robbing happens inside the locker rooms while the member is out on the floor working out. While some of the Fitness First branches have sensor locks, most still have the usual key locks. And all of the stories I've heard were all those that can be opened using keys.

If cars can be opened and car-napped using metal wires and forks, then lockers can surely be opened the same way. Unless, of course, it's an inside job, which I hope is not.

Today, I saw a post of a certain Carla Tan who faced a dreadful incident. Apparently, her dad's locker that contained everything including wallet was robbed with money and credit cards. Carla writes her story and I quote (with her permission):
July 22, 2011: At around 11:45am, my dad arrived at Fitness First North Edsa. As usual, he stored his bag inside the gym's locker. He keeps everything inside his bag, he has been doing this for the past 2-3 years.

At 1:37pm, Citibank called up my mom checking if my dad is currently using his card at Landmark Trinoma grocery. My parents got alarmed and my dad checked his wallet. He found out that his 2 citibank credit cards were missing (1 classic and 1 gold). He immediately told the agent to block this two credit cards. And then, we went to Landmark to check with the security office and to report the incident (kasi we were hoping that the suspect was still in the mall).

When we went to the grocery, we found that he placed all the grocery items in the package counter. We stayed there hoping he would come back for it. After 30mins of waiting, he came back for it and the landmark security went after him (the cashier was able to identify the suspect).

He was detained in the security office of landmark and he was acting innocent at first. At that time, he was carrying all items he purchased. Eventually, he admitted the crime to the commander of the security office. We found the two credit cards with him and my dad asked if he took some money as well. According to him, he took 1000php but syempre we don't believe him kasi my dad is also not sure how much money ang nawala.


This suspect is a fitness first platinum member in rcbc tower and he lives in cityland pasong tamo, makati ("daw"). So, i was wondering what was he doing in north edsa if he lives in makati! Modus operandi?! And how can he afford the monthly dues (mas mahal pa sa platinum!)?! He didn't have any ids with him at that time and so, we don't know if his name (Joselito Cruz) is real. The suspect was also insisting that my dad didn't close his locker and that was how he was able to get the cards and cash! But of course, we didn't believe him kasi you cannot get the key without closing the locker! Ginawa pa akong bobo! kainis! He then just said that he just tried to open my dad's locker using his key - hello?! is that even possible?! eh all keys are unique kaya! The locker was not damaged kaya baka inside job din! :(

The suspect spent 23,000 in grocery items (divided into 3 transactions - para di ma-obvious diba?), 34k nikon d3100 camera with tripod, 27k gold bracelet plus 6k worth of gym apparels. The whole ordeal lasted for 8 hours (6hours in landmark security office and 2 hours in the precint) but we were lucky since we were able to retrieve all the items he purchased. The suspect was even asking if we can just settle it. Hello?! Ano sya hilo?! He then ask how much will be the bail?! Exagg!


In the precint, the suspect admitted that the name "Joselito Cruz" is not his real name. His real name daw is "Acel Cortes" and he is gay (medyo obvious naman when i was talking to him medyo malamya magsalita)! He also admitted that this is a modus operandi aka sindicato - the sindicato pays for the dues and they have this people go around the fitness first branches to rob the lockers of the members.

I know hassle and time-consuming to pursue this case but we are determined to really pursue it. I believe that justice will be served!

So, to all FITNESS FIRST MEMBERS, PLEASE BE CAREFUL!!

The revelation of this robber Acel Cortes a.k.a. Joselito Cruz alarmed me the most. Robbers inside Fitness First clubs are being sponsored by syndicate groups to steal and rob the things of authentic members, and we can be the next victims!

Here are some of my questions:
  1. Where are the guards of Fitness First when this happened? Shouldn't they increase the number of guards inside the locker room, since a lot of members are experiencing robbery?
  2. How come Fitness First has not yet changed all their clubs' locks to sensors? I think it's safer than key locks.
  3. How did it happen that Joselito Cruz got his ID with his fake name on it? Does Fitness First need to strengthen their verification process for new members?
  4. Even if the club warns members not leave valuable things inside the lockers, can we really prevent that from happening? That would mean the member should only bring himself and nothing else!

50 comments:

Can i share din para maging aware ang iba??

Hi, Mei. Please do share it.

sensor based yung lockers dto sa moa. sana di affected. baka may master sensor card na pinapahiram sa mga ganito. yikes.

Natatakot tuloy ako kasi sa Fort and ABS-CBN puro keys. Wala atang balak mag upgrade sa lahat eh.

un nga e, hinde rin kasi masusurveilance un kasi bawal camera cctv sa locker room for privacy naman ng mga gym members, dapat talaga they should try to move the lockers near the cctv cameras para ma surveillances

me too i'm going to share this glenn and carla

Thanks, Ethan! Dapat palitan na nila ang lckers.

Fitness first still has management issues.. I left way back 2006 after 2 years with them for the reason that they dont maintain their equipment. Had some issues w the schdedule of the manager since you have to schedule an appointment w the manager in order for your termination of contract to take effect.. almost saying that technically yo cant end your contract with fitness first untill the manager says so..

Better to veer away from fitness first than always doubting if your stuff will get stolen when your working out. There are other Gyms naman eh..

Can I share this in my facebook account?

Thanks for sharing!

hi guys! please do spread this to everyone. fitness first management is walang kwenta, they didn't do anything about it! kame pa dapat mag followup. sad to say, the suspect posted bail na for only 10k. we asked if fitness first also filed a case against him pero wala naman daw (kasi sabi ni fitness they will).  Also, according to one of the staff sa fitness first north edsa, the attorney talked to tv5 regarding the interview we did about this incident.  it seems like nagkabayaran pa between fitness and tv5 because our interview was never aired. 

boo to fitness first! 

Carla

Carla, oh no! So may pera talaga pang bail yung tao or yung syndicate group? Woah!

You had an intervire pala with TV5 that never got aired? Shocks, I hope not true na nabayaran sila. Tsk tsk.

OMG. That made me think twice about my lost iPod at Fitness First ABS CBN.

Jin, you were on top of mind when I was writing this. You are the last person I heard losing something kasi. Haay!

My suggestion is that people use really heavy duty locks so that thieves have a hard time getting the locker contents AND Fitness First should have guards inside the locker rooms too! (Although in my experience, there was a lady guard in the locker but she "see the iPod get stolen" grr...) I reported my theft incident to the ABS CBN branch but they were so relaxed and unconcerned about it. Didn't renew my membership with them and went for Gold's Gym instead. 

Some people might get turned off though if they implement the "bring your own lock" thing. For me, sensor locks like in Megamall and MOA will do. And yes, the guards should be more aggressive enough to catch these robbers


Don't forget to share this to everyone! 

Fitness GH has two lady guards in the female lockers... Both either in front of the mirror checking their hair, putting make up etc.. or chatting up some other staff... wow efficient. 

I was a former member of Fitness First Fort B., so far no bad experience for me pero you should choose which Fitness First you go to. Been to Robinsons Summit and Greenhills and so far decent naman ang mga tao. sad to say hindi maganda ang crowd ng North Edsa, I don't know sa Trinoma (platinum ito). Yes, it seems the management is really relaxed about complaints. They think its ok kasi sa laki ng company, what can these unwanted events do to them? good thing nahuli ninyo- stupid iniwan sa counter ang grocery items. try Platinum Fitness- sensor lockers sila.

bad trip yung mga ganyan!  dapat dyan sinisilaban! hehehe

Nangyayari din po ito sa Slimmer's World.  Kahapon lang po meron nanakawan sa locker room din sa Trafalgar Bldg, Makati branch.  Sa tingin ko hindi lang Fitness First ang target nila, malamang pati sa iba pang locker rooms ng mga fitness gyms. Be cautious.

I feel you. Male guards in branches I go to are often times found sitting and chatting with instructors/customers.

Pano kaya nangyari sa Slimmer's? Diba bring your own lock doon?

kawawa ka naman naiyak ako sa kwento mo...hahahaha!, Dude! be a Man!

Yes, bring your own locks.  Sinira po nila pwersahan yung mga pad locks (lalo n yung mga maliliit na pad locks). 

Grabe naman! And there was no guard at all? Halatang halata na ah if sinira?

Boo to TV5 for not airing it!

That's why I'm done being "nice". Pity him that he's messing with me in his workplace. 

I think the gold bracelet and misc gym apparels gave away the the fact that the suspect was gay. 

Haha. Gay or not, need to take extra care. Robbing incidents happened again at the Fort branch this May.

Thank God never pa nangyari sa akin yan sa Fitness First, although I heard stories about those kind of incidents did happened before.

To be fair with FF, instead of adding some negative stories, I'll share my good experience with them which happened a few months ago at RSC-Makati branch.

I forgot my mobile phone on top of a chair inside the locker room and I just realized it missing after a few hours. So I went back to the gym and asked the guard inside the locker room if he noticed or found my phone. Good thing, the gym member who found it surrendered it to the same guard and the guard then put in on the "lost and found" box in the receptionist area. So I was able to get my phone back, because it's password protected just unlocking the phone infront of them is a clear proof that it's mine. Just signed some security logs and after thanking the people involved and it's done. :)

How come the suspect was able to spend "23K worth of groceries, a 34K Nikon D3100 camera with tripod, 27K gold
bracelet plus 6K worth of gym apparels" with ease when stores normally would ask for identification that should match the name on the credit card BEFORE swiping the plastic?

Good question. As much as all of the stores are required to ask for identification, not all (most do not) practice this security measure. And during the time that this has happened, the implementation of this wasn't that strict yet - well actually until now.
Sent from my BlackBerry® wireless handheld via www.glennong.com

Good story! Awesome experience for you, but I bet more negative ones than good. Just in FF Fort, heard of three consecutive days of robbery. Now I don't bring my wallet inside anymore.
Sent from my BlackBerry® wireless handheld via www.glennong.com

TIP: I just started going to gym less than two months ago, albeit not at FF but at Gold's. I always get the locker closest to the entrance. I guess robbers wouldn't dare touch those lockers situated near the entrance as much as they would those where they could not be seen immediately. And do not ever use cheap locks. Or better yet, have a belt bag where you can keep your valuables and then bring it with you at the workout area.

A friend just pinged me. His friend lost a BlackBerry, Mac, and Rolex in Gold's Gym. Yes, even with own lock.


Sent from my BlackBerry® wireless handheld via www.glennong.com

Many options available from Low-Tech to High-Tech and what's paramount is the security of FF customers but surely  FF's resolution will always be driven by cost factors so the better alternative would be to take control and minimize and/or isolate the i"strike zone" by offering customers a safety deposit with PIN or Swipe function.  That way they only have to invest on at most 2 staff (for receive & release), making sure that only one interacts with the customer and the other secured within the depository area plus a CCTV which triangulates and closes the view of the area and all activity from within....or they upgrade CCTV coverage of the locker area, upgrade Locker system, increase staffing within the area..thus also UPGRADING its Operating costs...LOL...either way, the dichotomy of Safety/Security vs Theft/Robbery ergo CRIME... will always be driven by MOOLAH!!  Have an enjoyable work-out! :-)

I WOULD BEAT THE SHIT OUT OF THAT FUCKING GUY. nakakainis amp.

Disapprove
Sent from my BlackBerry® wireless handheld via www.glennong.com

Thank you very much! This is very helpful

You're welcome, sir. I'm wishing that most FF members would be able to read this. Keep on sharing. Thanks!

Hi Glenn!

Thanks for posting this. My brother had the same experience as well as my dentist with fitness first. I want to get in touch with you regarding this. Do you have an email or fb? Thank you. God bless

Another thing to look at is the qualification of FF instructors.  I know
somebody who is working at Fitness First Greenhills who is into drug
addiction.  Too bad hes elder brother is also a FF instructor thats why
he was hired. Can I name this person so the management at FF Greenhills
can look at this matter?

Hi Ming! I'm not sure what you plan to share, but perhaps you can post it via this thread. I'm not directly connected to FF, so the most I can do I provide a venue for users to share and others to read :)


Sent from my BlackBerry® wireless handheld (www.glennong.com)

How were you able to confirm about this info? You can always name it here, but I won't promise it can be read by FF GH management. Perhaps better if you can send them a letter or email to alert them about it. Just make sure you can present facts.


Sent from my BlackBerry® wireless handheld (www.glennong.com)

I heard the same sentiment of Nicole Hyala the radio dj of Love radio last wednesday only....her husband was also a victim of locker robbery at FITNESS FIRST...the CCTV camera is non functional and the answer of the managemnt was..they are not liable of any loss...OMG...what is the use of renting a LOCKER???

Yikes! Did she mention which branch?

Sent from my BlackBerry® wireless handheld (www.glennong.com)

Yes I can email them (FF Managemant) and if they are to investigate and do a drug test on this person, Im very sure that he will be positive for Meth (Shabu) addiction..  Thanks Glenn!

Rent/Use locker at your own risk.. Even you have to pay for it :-S

Hi! Hope you don't mind me posting your blog to my FB account. I am a member and so are my friends. I also have overheard one member talking to her friend complaining about her shoes that was stolen in a rented locker. When asked about what did FF do about it she said "sabi nila wag na daw ako mag iwan ng mamahaling shoes, kaya nga nagrent ako ng locker para sa shoes ko". Oo nga naman, when you are a platinum member, rented lockers are mostly for shoes and toothbrush coz shirts, shorts, towels and other toiletries are provided for in case you always don't want to carry gym bags around. This happened at FF Platinum in Trinoma.

http://business.inquirer.net/70393/fitness-first-club-liable-for-member’s-stolen-items—court-of-appeals

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