Friday, 22 April 2016 – On the evening of Tuesday the 19th of April, four CityROCK Johannesburg climbers were victims of theft on our premises. The perpetrators managed to slip into the gym while staff were distracted by the Tuesday evening rush, and rummage through bags left unattended in our coffee area.
At 19:15 on Tuesday night, two women arrived in a white Kia Rio, driven by a man who remained in the car. The first woman entered the gym foyer, hovering away from the counter, ostensibly playing on her phone or looking up at the climbers on the walls. Once our front desk staff were distracted by large groups of customers arriving, she slipped under the “out” side of the turnstile, masked from view by the counter. The other woman followed suit a few minutes later. Once inside, they made their way to the coffee area tables and sat amongst customers’ unattended bags, casually checking their contents for phones and wallets. After ten or fifteen minutes, they left and were driven away by the man waiting in their car.
Shortly after the women left, the first customer noticed that her phone was missing, prompting others to check their own belongings. Staff immediately began combing through the night’s security footage to piece together the chain of events. A police report has been filed, including video footage of the theft, the perpetrators’ license plates, and clear shots of both women’s faces.
It is clear that these offenders were aware of our patterns, given that they arrived during our busiest time slot, on our busiest night of the week. An unfortunate side effect of the popularity of this facility is that there will always be opportunists who assume (correctly) that where there are people, there is money. We are, however, very thankful that these thefts were committed by outside parties and not by climbers in our gym. The integrity and trust of the community we have built remains intact.
In order to prevent similar events from occurring, we have encouraged staff to approach their front desk duties with increased vigilance and initiative. No person is to walk through CityROCK’s doors without immediately being offered assistance, even at our busiest times. A friendly face and some individual attention is not only a pleasure for you, our guests, but also decidedly off-putting for a person hoping to slip in unnoticed. We will also be stationing more staff at our front desk during peak times, so that there is always someone with their eyes on the door.
From a customer point of view, we encourage you (as always) to make use of the many lockers available in the gym to store your possessions while you train. Staff have been instructed from this point on to direct customers to the lockers on arrival, and to move any unattended property to reception. We also ask that if you do see anything you find remotely suspect, please err on the side of caution and let a staff member know. It is better to bring our attention to a situation that turns out to be harmless, rather than ignore your instincts and allow genuinely suspicious activity go unattended.
We are incredibly proud of the friendly, open community of climbers that has grown so quickly at CityROCK, and we hope that by looking out for one another, we can prevent anything like this from happening again.
Cally and the CityROCK Team