A Burnaby couple are looking for answers after their belongings and vehicle were stolen from the Walnut Grove Community Centre on Jan. 4.
Malissa Moniz said her and her boyfriend, Jose Airton dos Santos, decided to try out the pool at the community centre last Saturday evening for the first time.
“When we returned back to the family locker room at 10 p.m., we discovered that his locker was bent and hanging open, completely empty,” Moniz recalled. “It looked as if someone had used force to break inside.”
Airton dos Santos had his clothes, wallet, ID, phone, car keys, and even his passport stolen; he is from Brazil, working and studying in Canada on a student visa for the past 2 years.
“We reported the theft to the onsite supervisor who immediately had him call the RCMP,” Moniz continued. “Minutes later, we discovered that his 2007 Black Dodge Caliber was gone from the parking lot.”
Moniz said a location tracking app on his her boyfriend’s phone did help temporarily track the route to a nearby 7 Eleven, but RCMP found no sign of the car.
“We then discovered multiple fraud charges on his credit card less than an hour after the theft, including an attempt to authorize an Amazon account,” she added.
RCMP later informed the couple that there had been 10 previous thefts in the last week at the Walnut Grove Community Centre.
Moniz said when she informed the supervisor of the locker, they didn’t seem surprised.
“Nobody at the community centre informed us of the higher risk of theft recently,” Moniz explained. “There was no signage or additional security anywhere.
The Township of Langley released a statement regarding the incidents, stating that security measures are being taken.
“Unfortunately, theft occurs in all communities at shopping malls, movie theatres, homes, and sometimes community centres,” read the statement. “To prevent theft at Township of Langley facilities several measures are in place including: posted signs reminding guests to minimize the amount of valuables they bring onsite or leave in their cars, regular staff walk-thrus of change rooms and other areas, and providing wallet lockers in visible public areas aside from larger lockers in change rooms. We will continue to be diligent in our security efforts and encourage guests to leave valuables at home whenever possible or use wallet lockers.”
Moniz said RCMP were able to locate the vehicle, though nothing was left inside.
She additionally met with the community centre manager to discuss further security measures that could be taken.
“Maybe there could be at least a sign or more security on site… maybe an occasional route through the locker rooms to check,” she said. “Something should be done if it’s a known concern.”
Airton dos Santos had a trip home planned to Brazil at the end of January to visit his family for the first time in over a year; without the passport, Moniz said the trip is no longer possible.
“I cannot believe this has happened to me in this country,” he said. “They have taken everything that I have.”
Moniz has set up a GofundMe page to try and recover what her boyfriend has lost.
“We’re scared of Langley now… and even just going out to public places,” Moniz added.
Sgt Damian Volk with Langley RCMP said the case and increase in thefts is unfortunate, but encouraged people to use other message of storing their belongings.
“Keeping your belongings in your trunk is one of the best ways of keeping them out of reach,” he explained. “There’s no cameras in lockers rooms because of privacy, but there are cameras outside where there is also storage. If something goes missing from there, we’ll have more to go on from there because of the footage.”
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