Dear PoPville – “More Thefts at WSC Columbia Heights on Saturday March 26”

Photo by PoPville flickr user mosley.brian

“Dear PoP,

I know this is not as important as a shooting or mugging, but I did want to report yet another massive theft incident at the Washington Sports Club in Columbia Heights on Saturday night (March 26). I blame only myself, because after reading PoP I knew that I should NEVER take my wallet to that sketchy, crime-riddled gym, but I needed to shop for groceries afterwards and I knew I was going to have a very short work-out. I was one of FIVE males whose lockers were broken into between 6 and 7 pm, and whose wallets were stolen.

A policeman responded very promptly after being called, and management was sympathetic, but let’s face it, they really do not care to take any meaningful actions to stop these thefts (such as having staff regularly patrol the locker rooms, or training the ever present cleaning staff to watch for suspicious activity). I am one of many who wish we had a realistic health club alternative.

I continue to hate the over-sold, always crowded, crime scene that is WSC-Columbia Heights. I just want to warn patrons of WSC-Columbia Heights that the crime wave continues and NEVER NEVER NEVER take your valuables to that gym. You are a sitting duck! Thanks for letting me vent a little.”

Very frustrating. Unfortunately, it seems that these breakins happen at many gyms in the city.

We spoke about some reasonably priced gyms here back in Aug. ’10.

57 Comment

  • Man, that sucks. Sorry to hear it.
    I totally agree with your assessment of the place, btw. I’d leave the joint if I had a better option. (FitnessFirst, are you reading this? Please come to Petworth/North Columbia Heights!)

    I know it’s a pain, but what about keeping your wallet or small gym bag with you while you work out?

  • Can you please clarify whether or not you had a lock on the locker? if not, then you can’t be surprised that your stuff got stolen. I am amazed when I go in there how many lockers are full of stuff with no lock on them. (I know this because it is so damn crowded that I have to open about 10 lockers to just find one empty one to use after work). I stopped going and just go to the gallery place location on the way home from work. that one is surprisingly not crowded right after work.

  • It is not clear if this person had a lock on his locker. I know it is hard, but Columbia Heights, while full of young, realtively wealthy young people is also in the middle of a huge population of young and poor residents. We have to understand that crime is a part of our lives just as it is theirs and we will be regular targets unless we take precautions and adust our lives. I know it sucks, but that’s the way it is. I am also sorry if folks expected something different from Columbia Heights vis a vie personal safety and security.

    As a piece of advice, it you don’t want your IPOD, smartphone, wallet and bicyce stolen, I would leave them at home. Take just what you need. These hoods are adapting quickly. Either adapt with them or become a victim.

    • I don’t disagree, but the crooks are presumably *members* of the gym, and therefore NOT poor. In fact, given the dues required to join, the crooks must belong to that demographic that you describe as “relatively wealthy”. Go figure.

      Of course, there’s always the chance it’s the staff who is robbing everybody. That’s even more unsettling.

    • I agree with most of what you said, but it doesn’t make sense to leave your bike at home if you don’t want it stolen. For a lot of people, the purpose of having a bike is to get from point a to point b.

      • My point was to adjust. That’s why I have a beater bike that I don’t care if its stolen. Don’t ride your fancy schmancy bike and not expect it to get stolen. Another great adjustment would be join the bike share.

  • To “questions” . . . whether you have a lock does not seem to matter. My WSC locker was broken into and it had a lock on it. The WSC lockers are made cheaply with particle board, or some other manufactured wood, and the thief needs only a screwdriver or other tool to pry the latch mechanism out of the inside wall of the locker. My lock itself wasn’t touched. Now when at WSC, I never leave anything valuable in my locker, and carry my wallet, cell phone and house keys with me.

    • Now THAT’s a huge problem.

    • that’s an important point of clarification. getting something stolen because you didn’t lock your locker = your fault. getting something stolen because of crappy locker design and no security = the gym’s fault.

      • uhm, no. Getting your stuff stolen b/c you didn’t use a lock does not make it your ‘fault’. Yes, you didn’t do all that you could have to prevent it – but you did not cause the theft to happen. The thief did that part.

  • I would LOVE IT if Doug Jeffries would open another Results or Stroga in CH since the one on U Street closed and will soon be a Vida at double the price. There’s just not huge amounts of empty retail fit for a gym up here.

    There’s a huge demand for boutique and standard style gyms in the Columbia Heights / Petworth area. Hope someone jumps on that fast.

    • I’d Pay the $110 bucks that Results charges to workout at a decent gym.

      • I don’t disagree, but the crooks are presumably *members* of the gym, and therefore NOT poor. In fact, given the dues required to join, the crooks must belong to that demographic that you describe as “relatively wealthy”. Go figure.

        Of course, there’s always the chance it’s the staff who is robbing everybody. That’s even more unsettling.

        • Sorry. That reply was meant for Steve (11:53).

        • Rare is the occasion that I agree with TaylorStreetMan but this might be just one of those occasions.

          My question, how are non-members gaining access to the locker rooms? If they can slip past the front desk then maybe I should consider starting to work out there for free. Just a thought.

          So if it is not some people off the street stealing things it must be either other members or gym staff. Either way it all sucks.

          • Re: slipping past the front desk.

            They don’t need to slip by with all of the free weekly/monthly memberships WSC gives away! Hell, I got five free one week passes when I joined.

  • i never carry a wallet in there but i carry i ragged sweat shirt on the hangers kinda worried that someone takes that any my keys i leave in there debating about just carrying those in my pocket. its really not worth stealing. As gyms go I think that place sucks. No one has any proper gym ettiquet. Some people just leave the weights all over the place or just leave there towel on bench and forget about it. I miss working out at results I’d rather pay the $110 month than deal with the BS. But now that I live closer to WSC than U street. I went with the closes gym. Results is a far superior gym I think you get better service and you work out with people who can respect the gym rules. Plus the staff keeps the place nice which doesn’t happen at WSC.

    • I usually go with nothing but my keys, a pair of earbuds, and my debit card if I need to stop and buy something afterwards. And all 3 stay in my pockets the whole time I’m working out. If someone wants to steal my smelly sweatshirt from the lockerroom, they’re more than welcome.

  • Stop working out. Lie on the couch and relax.

  • Did you have a lock? I see SO MANY people at WSC Columbia Heights not using locks. Honestly, although no one should every “expect” to have their stuff stolen, I find it hard to feel too sorry for those who don’t put locks on their lockers given the reputation for problems at the gym.

    As for WSC Columbia Heights in general, I completely agree that it is oversold and generally a huge pain in the ass. Any full sized gym that moved into the Columbia Heights Petworth area I can promise would be very profitable (I’d be one of their first members, anything to get away from WSC).

  • I agree how aggravating it is to find a locker and the high percentage of people who don’t use locks. I have been so tempted to dump there stuff out and use the locker. They obviousely don’t care if it is taken or not.

  • it sucks that your wallet was stolen. they should invest in better lockers and staff watching over the locker room. i would also welcome another gym opening up in the area. wsc is too crowded. but calling the place a crime scene and sketchy? really?

    • It IS a crime scene. A crime was committed at the scene (multiple times, in fact). Ergo: crime scene.

      I wouldn’t go as far as ‘sketchy’ though.

      • yes. i understand that, taylor street man. i understand that a place where a crime occurred is a crime scene. i am not an idiot. i was asking “really?” to this line:

        “I continue to hate the over-sold, always crowded, crime scene that is WSC-Columbia Heights.”

        i think that goes over the top, calling the gym essentially a constant crime scene. the OP’s hatred, disgust, and disdain for WSC just seemed a bit out of proportion (acknowledging his wallet was stolen).

        • If you had written it like that in the first place, I might have agreed with you. But you didn’t.

          I’ve only got what you say as a guide to what you say.

          • By your logic and the OP’s, EVERYWHERE is a crime scene since crimes have been committed everywhere especially in DC.

            However all these theffts are making me paranoid, I think I will start to bring my phone and wallet into the shower with me.

          • So, what do YOU call it when a crime is committed somewhere?

            The term “crime scene” is completely accurate, especially considering the freshness of the crime. This is a silly little weak argument you have to the contrary.

            If you wanted to be anal and hyper-technical, then I suppose you’d have to say that ANYwhere that ANY crime has EVER been committed would qualify as a crime scene, but really, who wants to be that much of a jerk? You, Chris? I don’t think so – and neither do I.

            Implicit in using the term “crime scene” is some kind of consideration of the elapsed time since the crime, no?

  • It would also help if everyone would be aware of their surroundings and report suspicious activity. That gym is always packed and if someone was paying attention the perp would have been busted.

  • In the history of the Colubmia Heights WSC, how many reported robberies have there been?

  • When I have to take a wallet/car keys I always bring 25 cents and lock up my small stuff in one of the tiny lockers they have around the corner of the entry way near the vending machines (at the CH gym). They are the kind you put a coin in turn the key and you keep the key on you.

    Not sure if those have been broken into in the past. They are hardly ever used.

    I’ve had memberships with different gyms over the years and I have to say theft from lockers has happens at all of them (note I have never “gym’d” at Results). I know it isn’t right, but it happens.

    • +1 i’ve had locked lockers at YMCAs in bethesda and rio de janeiro broken into. the quarter-based lockers work well.

  • The place is always so packed. how is there any time where someone could break into a bunch of lockers without SOMEONE noticing? do people just look the other way? it shouldn’t be that hard to notice and call the cops before the perpetrator can get out of the gym, down several flights and out of the building.

    • The perp is either a member or works there. No need to run and hide, just hop on a nearby treadmill and blend in!

    • A lot of time people work in pairs, as well. One purposefully distracts the random people in the area while the other does the breaking in. You’d be surprised at what people can steal without others noticing.

  • Did nobody see anything? I mean did anyone not see a guy with bolt cutters, screw drivers, etc prying open lockers? Sounds very strange to me – especially given how crowded and full the gym is 24/7 that nobody saw sketchy dudes creeping through the locker room stealing stuff. But alas this is DC – we always turn a blind eye and are too embarrassed/scared to say anything ever and confront these a$$holes. sigh.

  • why not work out with a wallet in your pocket?

  • Wait, was this when the fire alarm went off on Saturday morning and they had to evacuate? If so, I’m glad I took my gear with me and didn’t listen to them when they promised they’d lock the gym.

  • This is going to continue to be a problem at least until they start making trainers & staff store their own stuff in the gym lockers. I cannot wait to leave that gym.

  • Anyone work out at the WSC at Gallery Place? I’m pretty much equidistant to both, but have never tried the GP location.

    • I’m at the GP location at least 3 times per week. It’s MUCH smaller than the CH location but you rarely have to wait for equipment. I haven’t heard of any locker break-ins there, rest assured, I will inquire this evening.

  • I am so sorry to hear about getting your stuff stolen. This gym has so many problems. They simply do not have enought people monitoring the floors.

    In the same week, I had two gals not in workout wear (in UGG boots!) while I was on the circuit, another guy texting on the circuit, a girl on her cell phone for 20 minutes in the stretching area and the one that takes the cake: 2 staff members that walked away from me while I was standing on a broken treadmill (one staffer fixed after I freaked out on him). I reported it all to management and suggested they find an appropriate way to monitor the floor.

    Management was sympathetic, but unfortunately, they have already lost me. I would rather pay more than to have to play “gym police”.

    • I’m glad you said something to management but my experience has been that they don’t give a rats ass what the members think.

      There’s always more people that will come along and join.

      I too wish for a nice gym near Columbia Heights – thought WSC might be that gym but have been sorely disappointed.

  • What about the Y near Dupont? Its nearby- just a10 minute bus ride on the 42 or 16th st lines, and I’ve never had anything stolen in the 3 years I’ve been going. They have visitors/guests sign in and leave ID for a key to a locker, so its harder to just go in and out to steal without attracting suspicion is my guess.

  • As a current member of the WSC I have notice non-members make it into the gym without ever having to check in with front desk. I have mentioned this to desk attendants and I get the response ‘they know so-and-so’. WSC Mgr needs to better monitor the front desk and not let employees allow friends and friends-of-friends in for free. I also suspect that this was more then one person involved, and I hate to say this but someone on the inside might also be involved with locker break ins. This GYM is very popular and very crowded and if they don’t address this soon it going to go downhill very fast.

  • I’m a WSC member and forgot my gym tag last Saturday at the Columbia Heights location, when I offered to show the front desk my license so they could look me up they just waived me in without so much of a glance. I would not have gotten away with this at the F Street location.

Comments are closed.