Friday, April 20, 2012

Theft at the Rink

I've only had stuff missing from my bag twice, and it's entirely possible that they fell out or I just left them on the bench. Freestyles are usually safe. Skaters put their purses or wallets and phones out off reach in the hockey boxes at many rinks, and ice monitors keep an eye on what's going on. Public sessions on the other hand--even in the daytime--can be a wild west show. Still it surprises me that I have never heard personal stories about it. So I Googled it.

From the Google news, it's usually people who either break into the rink after it's closed and take money from the office, or steal money out of locker rooms. One woman who bucked this trend would steal money from purses during birthday parties at the rink--and she was stupid enough to get caught twice at different rinks. The interesting thing about the thieves I read about was that they KNEW THE RINK. One man dressed up as someone coming in to play hockey by carrying a large obvious hockey bag before he waltzed into a locker with the key in the door. Other locker room break ins were perpetrated by teens who knew the rink layout. Even the woman who stole at birthday parties, knew how the rinks worked.

I found one case only, where someone lost something other than out of a locker room or a party. This person left their wallet and cell phone under their bag, under the bench. Okay, there's world's stupidest criminals, there's also world's stupidest victims.
Don't make it easy
So herewith is some common sense advice for rink theft if you skate at public sessions or are attending a game or competition:

1. Don't bring a lot of money and credit cards to the rink--unless you carry them on your person
2. Don't leave your car keys in the bag--especially if they have a remote opener on the ring. With that remote opener, even if someone doesn't know what you drive, they can still find your car.
3. If you leave stuff in the locker room, bring your own lock. Better still leave your money, cards and phone with a friend, family member or coach.
4.  For public sessions, zip your bag up. It won't deter a thief, but it helps keep children's wandering hands out of it. I like to put my bag on top of a vending machine especially to avoid the problem of unattended children riffling through my bag.
5. Carry a duffel or other cheap bag. You can stuff one of these in out of the way places to make it hard to get to. Zuca's are too unwieldy to do anything with other than to set them out in the open.
6. If you have to leave money, phone or wallet in a bag (and I don't recommend this at all) don't put it in there in front of everyone watching in the lobby. Put it in the bag while you're still in the car and bury it deep in the bottom or in a pocket with a lot of junk at the top. Turn your phone off.

Is it worth it to use the public lockers? Geeze, I don't know. My rink charges about $2 to use a locker. I've never seen anyone use them. However, at one rink I skated at once, the rink creeped me out so much, I put my shoes and empty bag in a rented locker. What can I say, it was a sleezy rink. Don't miss it at all.

Depending on where you live, leaving stuff in the trunk of a car is usually a safe bet. Don't leave a purse in view in the car. Just common sense.

Fortunately, the rink security cameras appear to be pretty effective. In several cases I read about, they were the direct cause of capturing the perp.

What? The rink cameras caught me?


  1. At my rink we always bring our valuables out to rinkside since the dressing rooms are far from the ice surface and unsupervised. One of my friends inadvertently left her purse in the dressing room one day. They stole her purse and her car as well.

    1. Yes, locker rooms seem to be the worst places for theft, probably because they have an aura of security they don't really have.