With the holidays approaching, and members carrying additional cash, gift cards and shiny new electronics into our facilities, now is a good time to review your security measures to deter theft. A motivated thief will always find new and creative ways to steal. He or she will get a rush preparing for, executing and then exploiting the stolen goods. And unfortunately, Campus Recreation centers, with hundreds wallets, phones, gym bags and headphones provide a large and potentially lucrative opportunity, for thieves to case and hit multiple targets in one fell swoop.
Not all incidents of theft are reported, but those that are require considerable resources through staff involvement and time as well as Police response and report filing. Once a report is recorded, Managing Directors should examine them and look for patterns such as time of day, location, and items stolen. Thieves act quickly, sometimes in coordination with an accomplice and aim for easy/soft targets: The victim may have left their locker unsecured or may have placed their wallet and phone on a bench during a pickup game on the courts. The victim’s five minute shower or their sixty minute cardio session provided enough of a window for a motivated thief to act on their impulse.
Theft deterrence is often a multi-pronged proactive initiative designed to deter theft on multiple fronts. The list below includes five initiatives for you consider if you are looking to defeat the cheat.
A contracted security firm will work hand-in-hand to learn your business practices, patronage and facility design. The process is typically lengthy and may include a review of all physical properties, internal documents and interviews with front line and administrative staff. The final report may contain prioritized recommendations spread out over a multi-year implementation plan.
From turnstiles to card readers and biometrics, consider upgrading your access controls. Access controls help by protecting you biggest source of revenue — access. There are many single-source solutions (ex: turnstiles), or depending on your needs, solutions can be comingled to deliver increased security (ex: biometrics & turnstiles).
Security cameras combined with active monitoring may help deter and respond to theft and suspicious behavior. Considerations should include staff training, playback capabilities, campus digital records policies, pan tilt zoom (ptz) abilities, and night vision or motion activation.
The majority of locker room thefts occur when members do not lock their lockers. Try selling locks at your member services desk and sell them as cheaply as possible. Communicate to your members that they are the front line defense against locker room thefts by choosing to secure their possessions.
Signage that hasn’t changed in years becomes invisible to members. Redesigned signage (colors, font and language) accomplishes two objectives 1) members recognize it and awareness raises 2) would-be thieves see it and know the additional efforts are being made to stop or catch them.
Each one of these proactive solutions may contribute to theft reduction with varying degrees of effectiveness. Facilities and Program Directors should navigate their own set of possibilities which may include cross campus and departmental consultation to arrive at the best set of solutions that defeat the cheat.