Theft from lockers at Chilliwack Landing Leisure Centre needs to be addressed now, according to a petition.
Jason Adams started the petition after his wallet and phone, some clothing, and his wife’s phone, were all stolen from the family change room after a visit to the Chilliwack pool last month.
“We reported to the staff immediately and they had nothing to say about it, only to stare at us with ‘shoot, not again’ looks on their faces,” Adams said.
The Leisure Centre is not responsible for lost or stolen items, the victim of theft was told. Three staff were on duty that night but maybe there needs to be a security guard as well to watch the comings and goings, Adams said.
“Apparently theft, especially locker break-ins, is something that happens often at this facility,” Adams said.
His change.org petition had 222 signatures as of Dec. 11, asking Leisure Centre officials to do something to beef up security, secure the lockers and stop the thefts.
“Clearly it’s not just me,” Adams said, adding that several people have come forward with their own stories of being victimized.
Ryan Mulligan, City of Chilliwack’s director of Recreation and Culture, said they are working on solutions.
They’ve been testing out a much stronger type of locker “with a superior locking mechanism” with no theft or vandalism occurring since they put 40 of them into the men’s change room.
“Based on the results, we have asked council to approve replacing all the pool lockers in both pool facilities at the Leisure Centre and Cheam Centre,” Mulligan said, adding that final approval is still pending but the $300,000 required is available in the rec budget.
The lockers are the city’s responsibility as owners of the infrastructure, while Recreation Excellence is the operator of the facility.
Adams said he double-checked to make sure the locker was locked after they put their stuff inside.
“When we came back from swimming we were shocked to find our locker was pried open, our wallets, cellphones and some clothing were stolen,” he said. He didn’t actually see any evidence of a break-in.
Also no one told him there were smaller lockers near the staff counter to keep wallets and phones safe.
Adams said he feels in the wake of the experience that there was some subtle victim-blaming going on, and did not get much help from staff. They wouldn’t even call RCMP for him, even though he just had his phone stolen.
“Something has to be done to change the situation,” Adams said. “To me I feel like the Leisure Centre knows how bad it is, they just ignore it and hope it goes away.”
Bringing the fewest possible belongings to store in the locker is the best suggestion and the best deterrent, Mulligan offered.
“It’s not always possible but it minimizes the opportunities,” he said.
Rec Ex, the facility operator, looked into the number of locker thefts reported since the start of 2019, and there were nine thefts from the pool, with seven of them attributable to being placed in a cubby with no lock and left unsecured. There was no physical evidence of any damage to the locker Adams said the family used.
“Either it wasn’t really broken into, or someone found a way to get in, but if that was the case, there wouldn’t only be one theft,” Mulligan said.
Since the Nov. 29 incident that Adams reported, they’ve been watching that particular locker, and it had been used numerous times but no other thefts were reported.