It’s pretty unnerving to consider that the guy you recently helped on the bench could be a thief. Or perhaps it’s that cute cardio bunny. One of these people around you could be patiently assessing whether you have anything of value in your locker. Waiting until you’re super busy with a set or have just hoped on the treadmill to get into the gym locker room and break into your locker.
Unfortunately, gym locker crime is a common occurrence and there isn’t a lot that gym owners can do about this. After all, security cameras are not allowed in locker rooms. The only two things that they’re able to do is provide stronger lockers and locks.
Aside from the fact that most owners are not willing to invest money in expensive lockers, unless it’s an elite gym, these aren’t always enough to deter criminals who’re specialized in locker theft. And believe me, there are quite a few of these swooping around the place.
Since I’m an avid fitness enthusiast myself, I’ve pondered this question for some time. These are the 7 best locker theft prevention methods I’ve found online and came up with myself:
1. Keep expensive items in your car
I’ve seen my friend United Locksmith disagree with this because he feels that cars are often easier to break into than a gym locker. I think that this is highly individual. It depends on the parking lot security, as well as the neighborhood the gym is located in.
Does your gym’s parking lot have a security camera? Are you parking close to the entrance or in a dark, isolated corner? Is it a peaceful neighborhood where car break-ins are rare, or it’s a regular occurrence?
It also depends on your vehicle’s security equipment. If you have an alarm system and solid door locks on your vehicle it’s probably safer than a gym locker. Especially if you have an alarm system that can send you a notification when the alarm gets triggered.
Furthermore, breaking into a vehicle usually takes more skill than breaking into a locker, and often involves breaking costly components. So it’s more likely that a petty thief will refrain from doing so unless you’ve left the car unlocked or a window down.
Again, it highly depends on the parking lot and the vehicle in question. Considering the awful quality of lockers in most gyms that I’ve been to, perhaps storing a few valuables in the car would be the safer option. Or perhaps not?
The best way to come to a conclusion is to assess your particular situation objectively and decide which of these two storage options would provide better protection for your valuables.
2. Wear clothing with zipper pockets
I don’t like carrying too much stuff in my pockets when working out. It just gets in the way and I’m constantly worrying that it will fall out as I’m doing crunches and similar exercises. But carrying a wallet, smartphone and such smaller items is usually not a problem.
I recommend wearing pants and/or a hoodie with zipper pockets. A waist pouch or waist belt is another practical option and I’ve carried this one in the past without it getting in the way of my workouts.
3. Use your own padlock
Usually the standard locks for gym lockers are weak. They’re easy to shimmer and crack open. That’s pretty sad, because there are some great padlocks that are super affordable.
So if you plan on storing your stuff in a gym locker or any other locker for that matter, it’s best to use your own. There are two options: key and combination padlock. I prefer combination locks because then I don’t have to worry about my key during workouts. I’ve been using this badass 4 digit combination padlock from Amazon for the last 3 months and it’s definitely reduced my worries.
The lockers in my gym are made from pretty thick metal and they’re near the reception area. So I’m not worried about someone breaking through them. But I was worried about the poor padlocks they were using, so this padlock has more or less put my worries to rest.
4. Place a small battery powered alarm in your locker
Imagine someone going through all the hassle of breaking into your locker. They reach for your bag or jacket and suddenly a terrible 120 dB of alarm noise starts echoing through the gym.
Can you imagine the shock and fear on their face? You can bet that everyone’s eyes would be centered on that locker room door and an arrest would follow shortly after unless they manage to escape in shame.
Well, there are plenty of small battery powered alarms that can be used for this purpose. My top choice is the Doberman Security alarm because of its slim design and proven quality. It’s typically placed on doors and windows, but it can be used to secure other objects as well.
Place it in your bag or a pocket and turn it on. If excessive vibrations happen, i.e. someone picks up the object, the alarm will go off. Since you know where the device is, you can turn it on/off without performing any excessive movements which would trigger it.
And even if you trigger it accidentally, since you’re aware of how it works and how easy it is turn it off, you can do so in a second or two without alarming others. But it would definitely be a surprise for an unsuspecting thief so it’s worth considering if you want to amp up your security a notch in a clever way.
5. Choose the safest locker (based on location)
Usually the safest lockers in a locker room are those that are fairly close to the door. Paradoxically, the second safest location is as far away from the door as possible.
It depends on the design of the locker room and the path towards it. Ideally, you want the thief to feel insecure about breaking into the locker because someone could catch them in the act. Either by hearing unusual noises or entering the locker room unsuspectingly.
If the locker is far away from the door, the thief will be less aware if anyone’s approaching. Unless they have an accomplice. If the thief is operating alone, this would place him/her at higher risk of getting caught.
If they’re close to the door, they’ll have to worry about making too much noise or someone spotting them immediately from the outside or as they enter the locker room.
Just like the parking lot situation we discussed in tip #1, the specifics of the locker room are important. I can’t say which locker is the safest in your gym. You’ll have to make your own decision on this one, but those are some practical observations to keep in mind.
6. Take your gym bag to the training area
Why not carry all or most of your valuables with you? There’s no problem in doing this. No one will care, unless your bag is taking up too much space. But I’m sure there’s enough space near the machine or weights you’re using.
If you carry workout accessories such as gloves, a bottle of water, protein shake and a weightlifting belt, carrying a gym bag is entirely practical both for security and comfort.
You can still leave some clothing and inexpensive items in the locker and you won’t feel the need to worry about having them stolen.
7. Become a gym minimalist
I always say that the easiest way to protect your stuff is to leave it at home. If you’ve secured your home adequately that is.
Sure, many people go to the gym on their way to work or from work. They just have to bring a lot of stuff. But if you’re not in that situation, you probably don’t have to bring your smartphone, credit cards or loads of cash.
Leave these items at home and bring only the essentials. After all, a gym is a place where you let the body do the talking. If you’re worrying about some precious thing in the locker being stolen, it can spoil the moment where you’re supposed to be focusing on your mind-muscle connection.
We’re treading into bodybuilding woo-woo here, but just keep in mind that this was the mentality of old school bodybuilders like Arnold and Franco Columbu. In fact, a famous Vince’s Gym where many of these bodybuilders trained didn’t allow any music and other distractions! If worrying about gym locker theft is weighing heavy on your mind, there’s a high chance you’re taking too many valuables in there to begin with.
Final Word: Gym Locker Theft Prevention
As a kid, I got my baseball cards stolen from a locker in school. That was a pretty big shock to me. How could someone in my vicinity be so evil without me noticing?
But as we get older, we realize that most people have ulterior motives. There’s no need to become overly cynical though. However, we shouldn’t be naive about human psychology either. If an opportunity to steal without getting caught is available, many people will take it. When it comes to gym locker theft, the opportunity is almost too real for those with an inclination to steal not to indulge in it.
By using your own, tough padlock, carrying your valuables on you, leaving them in a vehicle parked in a secure location, or simply becoming a gym minimalist, you can drastically reduce the likelihood of gym locker theft or the impact that it has on your bottom line even if it happens. So I hope you’ll use the information presented here to your benefit. Hope this helps!