A Washington D.C. fitness club had been targeted for several customer thefts. As a result, the manager engineered a way to catch the thief who had been pilfering out of wallets stored in gym lockers.
According to NBC Washington, members of the Vida Fitness gym Washington had recently fallen victim to theft. A thief had been breaking into the locked gym lockers in the changing rooms and stealing from gym members.
Gym manager Chris Kopp devised a solution to try and catch the thief, who purportedly had been lifting credit cards. First Kopp installed surveillance cameras in the gym locker rooms, but kicked it up a notch by using an old trick. He placed flour in one of the lockers, then added a flimsy luggage lock to 'secure' the locker.
"The best way to catch these people is to catch them red-handed," Kopp told NBC.
And it worked like a charm. The surveillance video captured an individual, alleged to be the thief, opening the locker and getting doused with the flour. After this, the man quickly exited the facility.
"When he opened that up, he got hit by the flour, and thankfully it was the first locker he tried to break into, and it was his last for the day," said Kopp.
With this incident, many are questioning the privacy aspect of the operation-catch-a-thief method initiated by Kopp. NPR notes Kopp posted signs reminding people the cameras were in operation in the locker rooms. Additionally, the cameras were not hidden; NBC video shows footage of the cameras in full display. A Vida health club member told NBC the cameras were not in the shower area, but where the lockers are located.
However, those questioning are looking at the potential broader implications.
"As a general matter we think that privacy is becoming less and less secure in a million ways,” said Art Spitzer, of the ACLU. “It’s surveillance cameras, it's GPS-tracking devices, it's keystroke-tracking devices on your office computer, and we’d like to see the American people in general care about their privacy and protect it.”
A Vida Fitness spokesperson said that video is only looked at in the event of an incident, and if so, members of the same sex of where the footage was taken review the tape.
Police are currently seeking to find the individual caught on video.
Although, the gym does have a lead on who the man is, he had checked in at the front desk with a driver's license and the gym has his ID posted at the front desk with a note that reads "Do not allow access".