There are certain places that attract thieves and, whether we like it or not, a gym is one of them. By definition punters usually leave many of their valuables (cash, mobile phones, tablet computers, watches, etc.) unattended there usually, of course, in the changing rooms. Needless to say there can’t be CCTV in the changing rooms themselves and from my own bitter experience (see below) cameras on just the doors and in reception even with a controlled membership entrance system prove inconclusive and thus somewhat ineffective.
Nearly two years ago I was the victim of a theft at David Lloyd’s in Kingston. I lost the cash I had draw out from an ATM on the way there and a much treasured Rolex watch that I’d bought many years earlier with money I’d inherited. I didn’t get either back and nobody was arrested for it. I was bitterly disappointed at the time with the response I got from the management of the gym and the local police but maybe I’ll leave that for another blog entry.
Today I decided to do my daily bout of cardio at Raynes Park. For those that don’t know – Raynes Park is the ‘original’ David Lloyd’s opened in about 1980 I believe. As the first one in a chain that now numbers 90 or over, it still seems to retain something of a figurehead status getting the latest equipment and also apparently stands ‘first in the queue’ when it comes to refurbishments.
No surprise then to find that over the last few weeks the larger of the two sets of changing rooms at Raynes Park has had a complete refit. I personally didn’t see anything wrong with the lockers and wet facilities that were there already but, as I said, it is apparently the company figurehead and they seem determined to spend some of the profit they must be making out of membership (over £200 per month for a family of four non-tennis members!)
What does surprise me is that the new lockers in those rooms, and presumably the same will happen in the smaller set of changing rooms where works starts tomorrow, have been fitted with digital locks. I’m sure the gym staff find this a huge advantage. Up until now, if a member had forgotten their personal padlock much time in reception was spent (“wasted” I’m sure they’d say) finding them a lock to borrow or even selling them a new one. There was also the inconvenience, when someone mistakenly locked their keys in their locker as I did once, that a member of staff had to attend the changing room with the inevitable pair of bolt cutters. I can’t help wondering however if the management of David Lloyd’s have really thought this digital makeover through though.
I didn’t take note of the make and model of the locks that have been fitted but I assume, in case members make a mistake keying in their chosen code or the lockers have to be emptied by staff for some reason, there is a ‘master code’ to unlock them. If this is true, I think it is safe to assume the number is the same for every lock in those two changing rooms and probably for those about to be fitted from tomorrow. How secure is that? Surely more than one member of staff has to have that number and if it ever gets in the wrong hands (let’s face it – it might!) a thief could potentially gain access to every locker in the building.
Even if that isn’t true, there must be a reasonably simple way to take the locks apart and gain access to the lockers. If there isn’t David Lloyd’s is going to have to wreck one of their brand new lockers every time a member makes a keying mistake. Like the master code, that methodology must have been promulgated amongst the staff and could easily become known to a thief.
If the locks don’t have a master code or a simple way of taking them apart to gain access and someone from David Lloyd’s or the company that makes them wants to correct me on this I’d be very happy to apologise profusely and change what I’m now having to do (i.e. leave all my valuables in my car and take my car keys into the gym with me).
In the meantime, on the million-to-one chance that any David Lloyd manager or even a director reads this, may I suggest you use the profit you’re making on better security advice, upgrading the equipment in all your gyms as frequently as you do at Raynes Park or, better still, stop raising our membership fees above the rate of inflation.