There is no perfect way to prevent locker room crime, but by enforcing some basic rules, you can help to protect your facility against liability.

When locker rooms at two 24 Hour Fitness locations were robbed simultaneously, the crime was all over the evening news. Details were scant:

Locks were cut, both the men's and women's locker rooms were hit, and the thefts seemed to be coordinated. But members who visited 24 Hour Fitness the next day were offered no additional information. In fact, it was business as usual at the fitness centers, as if nothing had happened. Bonnie Sayers, insurance editor for Bellaonline.com, wrote an article about the incident. As a member of the club, she found 24 Hour Fitness' silence on the subject "unacceptable."

"I was at the health club the next day, with no inclination that something had taken place the morning before," Sayers writes. "I never noticed any security or notices informing the membership of these incidents. To make matters worse, I learned that the thefts resulted in further crimes besides taking the property from the lockers. A few cars were also stolen and a house was burglarized."

24 Hour Fitness says on its website that the company is not responsible for lost or stolen items from the locker room. "This is the same note that is placed on the inside of the lockers," says Sayers. Not surprisingly, the sign wasn't much comfort to concerned members.

An ounce of prevention

There is no perfect way to prevent locker room crime. Locker rooms have lots of hiding places for skulkers with cell phone cameras, or shifty-eyed lurkers with one eye on the door and another on wallets stowed in unsecured lockers. Short of closing off locker rooms altogether, the best way to thwart illegal actions is to remain vigilant - and remind members to do the same. "We consistently advise, through our newsletter and other means, ... the importance of locking up your valuables," says Bethel Bradford, general manager of University Fitness Center, Hunstville, Ala. University Fitness Center also created an alternative to the traditional locker room. "We provide free mini lockers, located at the front desk, that members can use to lock up their wallets, keys, jewelry, etc.," says Bradford.

The increasing popularity of camera cell phones is another cause for concern. The Video Voyeurism Prevention Act prohibits video voyeurism. The bill protects victims against anyone having the intent to capture an improper image of them, and knowingly does so under circumstances that violate the privacy of that person. Some fitness facilities, like Club One, 24 Hour Fitness and University Fitness Center, ban cell phone cameras from their clubs. "We have a no cell phone policy in the facility, to prevent photos from being taken of unknowing patrons," says Bradford.

Perpetrators of locker room crime must all enter your facility through the same place: the front entrance. Front desk staff should be concerned with more than just smiling and remembering members' names; they should also stay alert for suspicious behavior or unconfirmed guests. At University Fitness Center, "entrance to the facility requires a photo be on file," says Bradford. "As a member, this is stored in our system and is pulled up upon entrance. A guest must present a valid drivers license (or other acceptable photo ID), which is copied and also kept on file. This enables us to always know who is in the facility."

Once members and guests are inside your facility, they should have no questions about what is allowed and what isn't. Posting signs that absolve the facility from responsibility for locker room crime isn't enough; you should also make your policies clear, and encourage members to take steps to protect their belongings. "We have multiple signs throughout the locker rooms encouraging everyone to please use a lock when leaving their valuables unattended," says Bradford.

Enforcing those rules is an unpleasant, but necessary, part of preventing locker room crime. "If a member is using a cell phone, for example, a manager would explain to them our policy and the reason for it," says Bradford. "If this particular member continues to disregard our policy, we would discuss terminating their membership, as would be done for any repeated rule violation." Some challenges include what some older members perceive as taking orders from someone much younger than they are. "Some people do not want to be told what to do (or what not to do), especially by someone quite a few years younger," says Bradford.

The best policy

University Fitness Center does everything right, yet its members have still fallen victim to locker room crime. "Yes, we have had items stolen," admits Bradford. "Mainly from the locker rooms, but also from gym bags that have been left out unsupervised." Insurance, rules posted on signs and exhaustive waivers are all used by fitness facilities to prevent fallout from locker room crime, but, when it comes to easing members' minds in the wake of a security breach, honesty is always the best policy. "We are always honest about the situation when asked, and give the members assurance that everything possible is being done to keep the entire facility safe," says Bradford.
References
Sayers, B. Health club locker room thefts. Bella Online www.bellaonline.com/articles/art31938.asp, accessed Aug. 20, 2007.
Sullivan, M.S. Law may curb cell phone camera use. PC World www.pcworld.com/article/id,117035-page,1/article.html, Jul. 23, 2004.

Purchasing Guide

2XL Corp. 888 977-3726; www.gymwipes.com GymWipes Anti-Bacteria formula is an EPA-registered disinfectant product designed to sanitize surfaces such as seat pads, leg/arm rests, benches, handgrips, chrome plating, painted surfaces, steel and rubber surfaces, electronic panels and more. The towelettes are pre-moistened, disposable disinfecting wipes that have been developed to stop the spread of germs. GymWipes can kill 99.9 percent of germs that can cause illness, and contain no phenol, no alcohol, no ammonia, no residue and have a fresh scent. They come in 700-count containers. Accessories are available.

A-1 Textiles 800 351-1819; www.a1athletictowels.com Golden Mills towels now have five levels to choose from: Golden Camelot for budget clubs, Golden Jewel and Golden Cam for mid-scale facilities, Golden Touch for upper-end facilities, and Golden Diamond and Golden Elegance for spas and resorts. All towels are constructed to withstand daily use and washings. They're available in white, as well as select styles in beige.

American Locker Security Systems 800 828-9118; www.americanlocker.com The new Keyless Mini-Check from American Locker Security Systems allows patrons to select their own personal code for locker access. Keyless operation provides secure storage for patrons, and a low-maintenance system for operators. Management master keys are provided to easily open lockers with forgotten personal codes. The small compartment size fits wallets, cell phones and keys.

Anderson Courts and Sports Surfaces 800 543-5155; www.andersoncourts.com Anderson Courts and Sports Surfaces offers a line of custom-designed wood lockers available in a wide range of sizes, finishes and locking combinations. The product line also includes the new Marathon Lockers, which combine style and durability. Grooming stations, towel stations, end panels, crown molding and benches are also available. Interior configurations are easily modified with shelves and drawers.

Athletix Products by Contec 800 289-5762; www.athletixproducts.com The new Athletix Odor Neutralizer spray provides maintenance staff a safe and effective industrial-strength odor neutralizer that uses unique nanopolymer technology to eliminate and prevent odors on surfaces. Athletix Odor Neutralizer can be used on equipment such as yoga mats, and is safe for tile, grout and other similar surfaces, making it ideal for steam rooms, rest rooms, lockers and locker rooms, carpeted areas, and wherever unpleasant odors form.

Befour 800 367-7107; www.befour.com The FS-0961 Pro-BMI fitness scale combines aluminum construction, maintenance-free operation and precision. It has both AC and battery power capabilities. Efficient power management allows batteries to last for more than 100,000 measurements. Features include body mass index calculator, weight recall, programmable auto-off and more. The scale offers 500-pound capacity and accuracy of +/- 0.1 pounds. It comes fully assembled; just put in the leveling and batteries.

Club Amenities 800 578-5455; www.clubamenities.com Alter Ego Moisture Plus body wash contains aloe vera leaf juice with botanical extracts that are specially selected to cleanse and gently exfoliate the skin. The Soy Protein Complex is a pure vegetable source that enhances skin tone and moisture retention. The natural blends are designed to be both luxurious and cost-effective.

Club Resource Group 800 536-6858; www.clubresourcegroup.com Club Resource Group offers construction-related products and services, including locker systems, hardwood and rubber sports flooring, steam and sauna equipment, commercial laundry equipment, carpet and furniture. Products are supported by experts in design, layout, engineering and project management. A Club Resource Group project manager is assigned to each project to manage the process from design to installation.

Continental Girbau 800 256-1073; www.continentalgirbau.com Pro-Series II Drying Tumblers are available in 30-, 40-, 60-, 85-, 125- and 175-pound capacities, and are equipped with programmable microprocessor controls and an anti-wrinkle feature. They have an instant electronic ignition, a modular electrical system and a multiple-burner heat system. Pro-Series II large-capacity dryers have optional Integrated Sprinkler Systems, a sensing and extinguishing device designed to squelch dryer fires. Pro-Series II small-capacity models (30- and 40-pound capacities) feature axial airflow, a system that directs heated air through the basket. Lifting ribs inside the drum prevent tangling, and keep air constantly flowing through the load.

Electro-Steam Generator Corp. 866 617-0764; www.electrosteam.com Electro-Steam generators provide a steam room or shower with hot, clean steam in minutes. The compact unit will fit in small spaces, and feature kilowatt ratings from 3.3 kW to 240 kW. Units include standard stainless steel cabinets and are built in accordance with ASME, UL and CSA requirements. They are National Board of PVI Shop-inspected and 98-percent efficient.

ERC Wiping Products 800 225-9473; www.ercwipe.com ERC Wiping Products offers a new line of low-cost fitness towels. These 22-by-44-inch towels are all white and come with the choice of a blue or gold stripe down the center. Other athletic towel options are available that can differ by size, color, thickness and price.

EuroSpa Aromatics 800 395-MIST; www.eurospachemicals.com For 30 years, EuroSpa has been supplying fitness facilities with eucalyptus oil and blends for steam rooms and saunas. Toxic industrial fillers are never used to prepare EuroSpa Eucalyptus Oil Products. Suprema Grade has the full impact of eucalyptus; Mentholyptus adds the soothing effects of menthol, plus a note of citrus; and Eucamist is a less concentrated Suprema. Mystifiers II and III automatically deliver oil in adjustable amounts, vaporizing the oil.

HardKore Inc. 630 882-6277; www.hkgear.com The HKL1 locker cabinet with built-in bench from HardKore is made in the U.S. with plate construction technology. It features increased material thicknesses at physical stress points. Lockers stand 84.5 inches high, and the standard powdercoat color design allows for a two-color finish, with granite as the primary color. Multiple custom powdercoat colors are available. An optional stainless steel fastener package has a fastener up-grade for high humidity locations. A vanity, stools, bar table base and coffee table base are also available

JCH International 800 328-9203; www.jchinternational.com Poly5 Carpet is heavy-duty polypropylene carpet that is available in five patterns. The most popular is the Poly Weave - Berber pattern. Poly5 Carpet is resistant to moisture, fungus, static and salt/pool chemicals. For indoor use or out, it comes in a choice of tile, rolls or custom-cut lengths. Many color choices are available.

Lincoln Commercial Pool Equipment 800 223-5450; www.lincolnaquatics.com The Suitmate swimsuit extractor is designed to extract 95 percent of the water out of wet swimsuits in less than 10 seconds. It features a new self-timer to shut off the unit after eight seconds. It has a corrosion-free stainless steel and plastic construction. The U.L.-listed Suitmate is easy to mount on the wall, and connects to any 115-volt circuit with built-in GFCI.

Lyon Workspace Products 800 323-0096; www.lyonworkspace.com Lyon LifeStyle Lockers are finished in powdercoating from DuPont and Agion Antimicrobial that inhibits mold, and bacterial and odor build-up on locker surfaces, as well as the touch transfer of microbes on locker handles and doors. Any moisture triggers the controlled release of silver ions to provide antimicrobial protection. This protection will last for the estimated 20-year lifecycle of the locker. Lyon Workspace Products is an ISO 9001 registered firm.

Matéflex Modular Surfaces 800 926-3539; www.mateflex.com SoftFlex floor tiles are made of a dense vinyl that is soft and provides a cushion. They have a textured surface that is slip-resistant while remaining comfortable on bare feet. The tiles are easy to install and measure 12 inches square. SoftFlex is made of heavy-duty PVC and has support pegs that raise the tile above the existing floor. This allows for airflow, keeping the tile surface dry, and permitting drainage.

McArthur Towel and Sports 800 356-9168; www.mcarthursports.com McArthur White Super Gym Towels are treated with ÆGIS Microbe Shield technology. The towels are engineered so that they will resist the contamination and growth of bacteria, fungi and many other microorganisms. ÆGIS Microbe Shield technology is effective against any single-celled organism.

Multi-Sport Products 800 523-3253; www.multi-sport.com Multi-Sport Luxury Foaming Body & Hair Shampoo is a refillable product that has a vanilla bean scent and is specifically formulated to provide thick foam and lather. Its easy-to-fill dispenser holds 30 ounces of product.

Natare Corp. 800 336-8828; www.natare.com NataDek Wet Floor and Deck Surfacing System is a PVC/polyester composite created for wet recreational environments, including locker rooms. NataDek's ASTM C1028-certified, slip-resistant surface provides a safe and sanitary floor surface that is non-porous, so the growth of common wet environment bacteria is prohibited. It can be installed over concrete, tiles, masonry and wood surfaces to provide a waterproof, slip-resistant surface. It resists staining, deterioration, delamination, cracking and ultraviolet light. NataDek is available in a variety of colors.

National School Towels 800 448-8331; www.nstowels.com National School Towels has provided institutional towels for more than 50 years. Available in four sizes and 10 colors, the towels help facilities color code their towel inventories to control loss. National Towels carries a large inventory, and can usually ship via UPS in two to three days.

Ready Care Industries 800 477-4283; www.readycare.com Ready Care offers thousands of locker room amenities, as well as high-quality custom silk-screening on dispensers. Silk-screened artwork will look new for years - unlike labels, which become soggy and peel off. A variety of bottle styles are available, including stainless steel and ceramic. Items such as shampoo, conditioner, hairspray, mouthwash, razors, cotton swabs and more are also in stock.

Salsbury Industries 800 562-5377; www.lockers.com Salsbury's Designer Lockers are constructed of industrial-grade particleboard and covered with plastic laminate. The lockers are available in six colors: blue, gray, black, wood grain maple, cherry and mahogany. The units are 6 feet high and 18 inches deep, and are available in single-tier, double-tier, triple-tier, six-tier box and the double-tier "S" styles. Locker doors are 12 inches wide and with optional built-in locks and padlocks available.

Sani-Mist 800 752-5470; www.sanimist.com The Sani-Mist System uses the "bathroom scale" concept: users step onto two treadles to activate two pumps beneath their feet. A fine mist of fungicide is automatically sprayed between the toes. The Sani-Mister Dispenser sprays just the right amount of Sana-Mist Solution on the feet. Three active ingredients - undecylenic acid, salicylic acid and menthol - help prevent the spread of athlete's foot fungus while providing a cool, soothing foot treatment. Sani-Mist System has been in business since 1951.

Signature Fencing & Flooring Systems 800 569-2751; www.eventdeck.com TempoTileTM 1 (TT1) is a 1-square-foot modular drainage tile for wet areas such as showers and locker rooms. Each TT1 tile incorporates hundreds of hexagonal drainage holes surrounded by small anti-slip textured ridges, which provide additional traction when wet, while allowing water to flow through the top surface and underneath the floor. In addition, each tile sits on more than 900 ribbed support pillars, helping with weight distribution and shock-absorption. TT1's specialized hook-and-loop connection system makes assembly time quick and tools-free.

SnapLock Industries 800 457-0174; www.duragrid.com Duragrid matting self-draining surface keeps users dry in up to 1-half-inch of water. Effective in pool areas, locker rooms, showers, saunas, toweling areas and laundry rooms, Duragrid matting contains Vinyzene SB-1 antimicrobial, which helps fight mold, mildew and infectious bacteria. The patented 12-by-12-by-1/2-inch positive interlocking tiles snap together to form a surface of any size, length, width and shape. Available in three styles and five colors: beige, grey, brick red, royal blue and black.

Spa Partners 800 243-6772; www.spapartners.com Stainless Steel Amenity Shelf Dispensers from Spa Partners are constructed to be attractive and durable, and can include personalized logos. Shelves are available in singles, doubles or triples. More than 50 personal care amenities are available, including aloe vera, caribbean breeze, dead sea and tea tree varieties.

SportCoatings 888 510-2847; www.csgsport.com SportsAide and FabricAide from SportCoatings are designed to defend against potentially harmful bacteria. As part of The Sports Antimicrobial System (SAS), SportsAide offers antimicrobial protection for locker rooms, training rooms, whirlpools, mats and exercise equipment. FabricAide provides antimicrobial protection, stain releasers and odor control to laundry, equipment and textiles like towels and uniforms. Containing EPA-registered ÆGIS Microbe Shield, SAS is a family of technology designed to inhibit and minimize the risk of microbial contamination on sport surfaces.

Sportsmith 888 713-2880; www.sportsmith.net Aroma Therapeutic products from Sportsmith consist of oils, blends of citrus, basil, lavender and shea butter. The Sports Solutions Aloe & Botanical line contains aloe vera and coconut oil derivatives. The Sports Images Aloe & Bio-Complex line features cucumber melon, ocean mist, caribbean breezes and almond scents. The Club Basics Aloe Formula line is a basic line of vanity products with aloe vera extracts.

Steam Sauna 800 354-8462; www.steam-sauna.com Steam units from Steam Sauna are designed to be energy-efficient and durable, and are computerized for hands-free operation. The Self-Cleaning System offers a clean tank and is maintenance-free; the 2-in-1 System keeps the room steamy; the Stand-By Binary Setting gives instant extra steam; the Built-in Cooling System eliminates calcium and cools down the tank. The free-standing cedar log sauna and do-it-yourself sauna kits provide quick installations, both outdoor and indoor. Products are UL-Listed/CSA-Approved. Steam Sauna has supplied commercial steam generators, log saunas and sauna kits for nearly 40 years.

Taraflex Sports Flooring by Gerflor 800 727-7505; www.gerflortaraflex.com Taraflex Locker flooring comes with Sanosol anti-bacterial and anti-fungicidal protection. For 25 years, this treatment has been part of the Gerflor manufacturing process, providing a clean, hygienic surface that prevents the growth of bacteria and fungus, and reduces the risk of skin-related infections. The dimpled surface with slip-resistant particles makes Taraflex Lockers safer for walking. It is 2.2-millimeters thick, cleans thoroughly with a daily damp mopping and works for new construction and retrofits. It comes in seven multi-color patterns.

Tri-C Club Supply - Duffy's 800 274-8742; www.duffystric.com Palm Island personal care amenities from Tri-C are formulated with blends of vitamins, essential oils, marine biocomplex and more. The product line includes Ocean Breeze body wash, Juniper Breeze conditioner, Juniper Breeze shampoo, Sheer Sport sunscreen (SPF 30), Cucumber Melon antimicrobial liquid soap and Fragrance-Free Moisturizing Lotion. They are available in gallons and 19-ounce pump bottles.

Tuflex Rubber Flooring 800 543-0390; www.tuflex.com Tuflex 27-by-27-by-3/8-inch-thick tiles are constructed of resilient, predominantly recycled rubber, and are available in 20 color patterns. The tiles are tough enough to withstand the damage from dropped weights. An epoxy bonding is designed to keep odor-causing moisture from forming below the floor tile.

Zogics 888 623-0088; www.zogics.com Zogics Total facility wipes are gym wipes that clean and deodorize surfaces throughout the fitness center. They come in 1,000-count rolls and wall-mounted dispensers are available. Volume discounts and automatic delivery programs are offered.