Today’s news:

Forest Hills robber lifts credit cards from lockers

Toning those abs? Fulfilling a New Year’s resolution to work off some extra pounds? If you’re working out at a Forest Hills gym, you have a little more to worry about than pulling a muscle.

Health clubs in Forest Hills have in recent weeks been hit by a locker bandit who steals credit cards from the wallets of unsuspecting patrons and then quickly runs up hefty charges on the cards, said Capt. Charles Stravalle, commanding officer of the 112th Precinct.

The thief charges large quantities of items, such as cartons of cigarettes and phone cards, and then sells them to stores at reduced prices, Stravalle said.

“They only take one credit card so the person doesn’t notice right away,” Stravalle said.

A total of 10 locker robberies have occurred at three of the four gyms in the confines of the 112th Precinct, Stravalle said.

According to police, the thief either picks locks with a thin razor blade or uses serial numbers engraved into combination locks to determine the codes that will open them. Locksmiths have books that match serial numbers to combinations, Stravalle said.

After removing a single credit card, the bandit locks the locker, leaving victims unaware they have been robbed.

“We want to let people know they shouldn’t be keeping valuables in their gym lockers,” Stravalle said. “They should keep them in fanny packs or lock them up at the front desk.”

Stravalle urged each gym user to purchase a quality lock with a serial number on it and bring it to the 112th Precinct on Austin Street, where Crime Prevention Officer John Chordts will get rid of the identifying mark.

He also encouraged merchants to contact the 112th Precinct if they suspect they are being offered stolen goods.

“If they do encounter someone trying to sell things, report it immediately,” he said. “No one should buy any property from someone door to door.”

Reach Reporter Daniel Massey by e-mail at Timesledger@aol.com or call 229-0300, Ext. 156.

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