Vaimoana Tapaleao is the New Zealand Herald's Pacific Affairs and People reporter.

Gym class zeroes: Thieves steal car while owner works out

Women steal young man’s pride-and-joy vehicle after getting into fitness centre by stealth and grabbing keys from cubbyhole.
Trainee pilot Daniel Fa'amoe included CCTV footage of the thieves in his Facebook appeal. Photo / Michael Craig
Trainee pilot Daniel Fa'amoe included CCTV footage of the thieves in his Facebook appeal. Photo / Michael Craig

Brazen thieves stole a car outside an Auckland gym after entering through secured doors and swiping the keys as the vehicle owner worked out.

Police are hunting two women seen on CCTV footage driving the car away from Anytime Fitness Manukau gym.

They had followed a gym user through the doors and can be seen lurking in the foyer. One sits on a chair while the other heads into the gym. She returns with something in her hand, thought to be keys, which she puts in her pocket. The pair then walk out.

A few seconds later, the one with the keys calmly walks up to a silver Toyota Vista parked directly outside the gym, opens the driver's door, gets in and slowly reverses out.

Yesterday, the owner of the vehicle, Daniel Fa'amoe of Papatoetoe, was still coming to terms with what happened and said he could not believe how audacious the pair had been.

STOLEN VECHILE EQD761 - TOYOTA VISTA

TOYOTA VISTA: EQD761COLOUR : SILVER TINTING WINDOWSHi family and friends, really need your help to lookout for my car was stolen from the GYM ANYTIME FITNESS MANUKAU. From the beginning of the footage were two teenage girls stood by the door waiting for the right time to grab my keys from the cubbyhole. One was wearing a hat with white headphones on and the other was wearing yellow vest with a long hair. If you any info pls contact my cellphone 02102274128 or 0210252733(Dad) Tiatia Solofua Faamoetauloa and homeline 092776244, Manukau POLICE Station 09-2611300. Reference number for Police 160105/7263.

Posted by Daniel Faamoe on Monday, January 4, 2016

"I was at the gym at around 2.30pm doing my workout and I finished maybe just over an hour later.

"I was looking for my car keys inside the cubbyhole, thinking maybe someone took them by mistake. But when I looked at the spot where I parked, the car wasn't there. And that's when I knew. I freaked out."

The 25-year-old trainee pilot called police and his parents, then asked gym staff to check security footage.

He and family members have spent two days driving around the South Auckland area looking for the vehicle and putting up flyers at local shops and petrol stations.

Daniel Fa'amoe. Photo / NZME.
Daniel Fa'amoe. Photo / NZME.


Mr Fa'amoe also made a plea via Facebook and included the CCTV footage with the permission of his gym. Last night, the post had been viewed more than 40,000 times and shared by hundreds of people.

He said the idea that thieves had been watching him had been particularly creepy. "I'm still shocked, just thinking that something like this could happen. They must have been watching that whole time, thinking, 'Wait till this guy starts his workout, then we'll take his car.' "It's not a good feeling knowing that."

Counties Manukau police say they are investigating the incident.

Although they have not seen any trend of thieves targeting vehicles outside gyms, they say people need to be extra vigilant right now - as thieves tend to be out in force during the holiday period.

Detective Senior Sergeant Ross Ellwood said that with modern cars, it was easy for an offender to grab a set of keys and wander through a car park until a vehicle was unlocked at the click of a button.

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"Once they have access to your car, if you've got any documentation in your car identifying your address, they then have access to your home address, which makes burglary very easy."

Mr Ellwood urged people to keep their belongings safe by taking precautions such as using a steering-wheel lock or placing "no valuables inside" stickers on vehicle windows.

A spokesman for Anytime Fitness, which opened two months ago, said it was hugely disappointed and was now looking at more ways to tighten its security.

"When you see people kind of playing you like that, it's really not comforting knowing those kind of people are out there, waiting for that time to strike.

"It's just a shame because we haven't had anything stolen ... and for a car to be stolen is upsetting."

The spokesman said the gym was happy that its security cameras provided a clear description of the women, but would now be looking at introducing locked cubbyholes for members.

Can you help?
Vehicle: Toyota Vista, silver, with tinted windows.
Registration: EQD761.
Call the police: (09) 261-1300.

- NZ Herald

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