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Is Your Stuff Safe? Savvy Thieves Using Shims To Pop Locks And Steal Valuables

Prowlers Raiding Gym And School Lockers, Hitting Unsuspecting Victims

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NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- The lock on your gym or school locker may not be as secure as you think. Thieves are getting past everyday locks and they don’t need your combination or key.

“Shim-savvy” thieves are prowling around, opening key and combo locks without cutting or breaking them, police said.

“That’s just awful that people do that,” Marhall Balaban told CBS 2’s Dave Carlin on Thursday night.

“I had my wallet there, my phone there, even a couple books from class there. When I came back, everything was gone,” said victim Jeff Rodriguez.

Rodriguez and other victims said they secured their locks, double-checked them and still they returned to find locks popped and valuables gone.

“I lost my phone and my wallet,” Calvin Urena said.

All the crooks need are a soda or beer can and they can create a shim device that can open many popular brands of locks in a matter of seconds, police said.

The small aluminum shims, made out of the flattened bodies of the cans, are easy to conceal and use, sparking crime sprees at both the fancy upscale clubs and small independent gyms across the city.

Some of the thieves get in on a single-day pass, strike and never come back.

“I don’t leave anything in the locker anymore,” said Rodriguez. “It happened to some of my friends as well at the same gym. I don’t know if it’s the same people doing [it] or a group of people.”

“It’s better to spend more money on a lock that’s more safe,” said hardware store manager Moad Ghalid.

Ghalid showed Carlin some newer locks with anti-shim technology, costing only a few dollars more. But gym managers said there is really only one fool-proof precaution.

“Don’t leave your tax return inside, don’t leave the keys to your Ferrari inside,” said gym manager Marshall Balaban.

He said to remember it’s a locker, not a bank safe — leave the luxury items at home.

Another piece of advice from the experts is to keep house keys and smart phones out of the locker and on you while you work out.

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