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:
- 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?
- How come Fitness First has not yet changed all their clubs' locks to sensors? I think it's safer than key locks.
- 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?
- 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!