TROY, Mich. – A woman has been charged in a string of thefts from gym lockers in Troy.
From March 2021 to March 2022, wallets and credit cards started disappearing from lockers at Planet Fitness, Explore Yoga, and CycleBar.
The credit cards were used to purchase items at Somerset Collection.
“Sometimes your guard is let down, and you think, ‘Oh, I can trust the people that I’m working out with,’” said Melanie Duquesnel, President and CEO of the Better Business Bureau serving Eastern Michigan.
She said you must be vigilant about your personal items, even while working out, which Kaitlyn Duchien had to learn the hard way.
In March, she was running late to a class at CycleBar. She attends classes often and, at one point, even worked at an indoor cycling facility.
“I left my phone in the car, I left my wallet in the car, and was just honestly being pretty careless, but locked my car, went into the gym, threw myself in a locker, didn’t lock it,” said Duchien.
When class was over, she went to her locker to find her jacket, her Airpods in the pocket, and her car keys missing, but her car was still parked outside.
“I could see my phone in the car, still saw my wallet laying there where I’d put it before,” Duchien said. “So I just thought it was really strange.”
A thief had stolen a smaller wallet in Duchien’s wallet, so she didn’t notice her credit cards were missing until about an hour later.
“I started getting text messages from my credit card companies saying, suspicious activity detected; $400 at Target (in Southfield), $1,000 at Somerset,” Duchien said.
A total of about $2,000 was charged.
Months of investigating led to Elsie Hobbs; Federal court documents state Hobbs asked a CycleBar employee about joining future classes before going to the bathroom, which gave her access to the locker area.
Hobbs is now charged with wire fraud and aggravated identity theft for Duchien’s case and three others; two at Planet Fitness and one at Explore Yoga.
According to federal court documents, Hobbs has a criminal history, including shoplifting, credit card fraud, identity theft, and more.
Duchien hopes her story will help others.
“Just be aware of your surroundings and take that little extra step just to make sure you’re safe,” Duchien said.
Better Business Bureau suggests you limit how much you take with you when you work out.
“You can find your workout gear with a zipper in it and bring your one key for your car, so it’s always on your person,” said Duquesnel. “Don’t bring your purse in, don’t bring your wallet in. If at all possible secure to your person.”
She also recommends that if your wallet is stolen, call all the credit card companies in your wallet and the Secretary of State, so they know your ID was stolen.
“A lot of people will forget that piece because that’s your personal identifying information that by itself can create a whole mess of new credit cards,” Duquesnel said. “So they (thieves) don’t need that active card anymore. They can just create new ones all by themselves.”