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Newsday (New York)
A Bronx man turned gym rat used a yearlong cover of workout routines coupled with an arm brace to steal from members of two Nassau fitness clubs, taking more than $168,000 worth of jewelry and cash from lockers, police said Monday.
Alberto Gil, 55, of Boynton Avenue used fictitious names to join Life Time Athletic on Zeckendorf Boulevard in East Garden City and LA Fitness on Marcus Avenue in North New Hyde Park, police said, and broke into more than a dozen lockers with a small wooden tool to pick the locks, Nassau police said.
His take included 13 Rolex watches, diamonds, other jewelry and cash, police said. The thefts - 15 grand larcenies at Life Time, two petty larcenies at LA Fitness - took place between April 14, 2016, and April 13 of this year, according to police.
Gil pulled off the heists, in part, police said, by using a cast on his left arm as a ploy to disarm and befriend his fellow gym-goers, police said.
"I think that's kind of his ruse," said Third Squad Det. Nabil Hussain. "He makes friends with everybody. He gets sympathy from everybody. He walks around with this little brace."
Stealing wasn't the only thing on Gil's mind, according to Hussain said.
"He worked out," Hussain said. "He went into the sauna."
Police began investigating in March 2016 after reports of "multiple larcenies" in both the LA Fitness and Life Time Fitness clubs. Because there were no surveillance cameras in the locker rooms, detectives had to painstakingly go through gym records. Detectives initially thought the suspect was a gym employee who had access to a master lock, but after combing through visitation logs they developed Gil as a suspect and began surveilling him, Hussain said.
Third Squad detectives arrested Gil at 11:15 a.m. Sunday at the LA Fitness, police said. None of the stolen merchandise has been recovered, police said.
Gil was charged with 15 counts of third-degree grand larceny, two counts of petty larceny, second-degree falsification of business records and possession of burglary tools.
He was ordered held on $190,000 bond or $95,000 cash bail at his arraignment Monday in First District Court in Hempstead, said Nassau district attorney spokesman Brendan Brosh. His defense attorney could not be reached for comment.
Gil was convicted in 1991 in Westchester of criminal possession of stolen property, Hussain said.
Natalie Bushaw, a spokeswoman for Life Time Athletic, said in a statement emailed Monday that there is still "an active investigation" underway so she was unable to comment on details. She said, however, "Our club has not seen any thefts since his apprehension."
"Through the hard work and collaboration of our on-site Security Concierge and local authorities, we were able to identify and apprehend the suspect," Bushaw added.
Bushaw said that members are also told to be careful with their valuables but if a theft occurs it is reported to authorities and members are informed of the theft.
"As a general matter, we always strongly encourage members to avoid bringing items of value to the club and/or leaving valuables in plain view in their vehicles," Bushaw said. "Additionally, we reinforce that they ensure all personal items are secured in a locker or remain in their possession at all times."
With Lisa Irizarry
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