Q: I work out at one of the local gyms and often hear about people who have had their lockers broken into and their stuff stolen. What can I do to reduce my chances of becoming a victim?

A: There are a couple of steps one can take to reduce the chance of becoming a victim of a locker burglary while at the gym. The first and easiest step is to not bring any valuables with you to the gym. When possible, leave any valuables at home in a secure place. Now I know that may sound simple, but it is definitely the best way to avoid having your belongings stolen while at the gym.

If you’re like most of us that live busy lives and try to squeeze in a workout whenever you have time (after or before work/school, before the kids get out of school etc.), and don’t have the time to go home to secure your valuables before you head to the gym, then here are a couple of factors to consider when utilizing your gym’s lockers to store your stuff while you’re working out.

Locks

Choose a good quality lock to secure the locker and your property. There have been several incidents where I have investigated a locker burglary where the victim used a $3 combination lock to secure a $5,000 watch and a $10,000 wedding ring. Stay away from the combination locks we all used in high school to lock away books and folders. Who wanted to steal those anyway? These types of locks can be defeated very easily. The Internet is full of videos that teach ways to defeat a combination lock using a little know-how and minimal force. Bottom line: if you are going to use the public lockers at your local gym, make sure you use a good quality lock to secure your belongings.

Inspect the locker

Take a couple of minutes to inspect the locker you are about to use. What material was used to make the locker (wood or metal)? If it is a wood locker or locker door, is the wood cracked near the hinges or the area where you would place the lock? If the locker is made from metal, does it appear as if someone tried to force it open before? Does the locker door close properly? Check it to see if any of the screws in the hinge assembly are loose. If the locker you choose looks like it is about to fall apart don’t use it. Report it to the gym staff and use another locker.

There are some gyms that have lockers with locks built into them. Take time to inspect these lockers as well. Look at the locking mechanism and make sure it is securely attached to the locker door. Once you have stored your items in the locker and secured the locking mechanism, give the locker handle a tug to be sure the locker is secure and the locking mechanism is working.

Choosing a good lock and inspecting the locker before you use it can reduce the chances of you becoming a victim of a locker burglary. Remember, most gyms will not assume responsibility when a locker used by a member is burglarized.

Q&A

Q: There are often times when I am driving around in my neighborhood and notice things that need to be fixed or corrected. For example, there may be a street light out, an old piece of furniture that was dumped in the alley or a pothole in the roadway. In the past I have contacted my neighborhood resource officer, who promptly took care of the issue. But there are times where I don’t want to bother the police department with issues that are not police related. How can I report these issues?

A: The city of Santa Monica has a “Government on the GO” mobile application that is available for iPhones and Android-based smartphones. This application is very useful for a citizen who may be driving around or may be out for a walk in their neighborhood and comes across an issue that needs reporting. Smartphone users can tell the city about potholes that need filling, trees that need maintenance, graffiti that needs removing, and more. The application (called GORequest) utilizes the global positioning systems (GPS) and cameras that are available in modern smartphones to make it easier for citizens to report issues to various city departments at any time and in any place in Santa Monica. To report an issue, the user can simply open the “app” on their smart-phone, choose an issue from the menu, take a photo of the issue (if desired) and tap submit. The application will send the issue, photo and the location to a representative in City Hall who can correct the issue.

This column was prepared by NRO Artis Williams, (Beat 7, Sunset Park Neighborhood). He can be reached at (424) 200-0687 or artis.williams@smgov.net.