My Mum has been going to Aquafit at a local pool for a while now and really enjoyed it. I say “enjoyed” because just before Christmas, someone stole her engagement, wedding and anniversary rings out of her locker while she was in class. She was completely heartbroken.

My Mum is a smart, but trusting person. She lives in a smaller town, not exactly Mayberry, but she knows all of her neighbours and they’re the kind of people who generally look out for each other. Consequently, she wasn’t particularly concerned about locking up her stuff. In fact she didn’t even own a lock. Normally, she leaves her purse and jewelry safe at home when she goes to the pool. Who really wants to steal a gym bag and old towel? On that particular day she forgot to take her rings off and didn’t want to lose them in them water so left them in a pocket in her locker. When she got back the rings and three dollars in change were gone.

Any kind of theft is a deeply personal violation, but a person’s wedding rings?! That is so far beyond despicable I can’t even imagine getting your conscience around it. Not to mention, they were stolen from a women’s locker room. Another woman would have know exactly what the value of those rings was beyond the monetary.

The police were as helpful as they could be but not hopeful. The officer who spoke to her said that locker rooms are a popular target because there are no security cameras. Thieves will check for shoes under or near lockers and if they’re unlocked, they can help themselves without drawing the attention of anyone else in the room. Mostly these thieves are looking for items that are easy to liquidate. Cash and jewelry. I’m sure you’ve seen the “sell your old gold” commercials that are everywhere these days. Those places are making it really easy for these people. The police send out daily reports to pawn shops but thanks to our privacy laws, the brokers actually don’t have to disclose that they in fact have anything on those reports or who sold it to them. I guess that’s why it’s called the criminal justice system.

What happened to my Mum was awful and yes, I’m still really angry about it, but it could have been so much worse. Consider the contents of your locker on a normal day: wallet, ID, Blackberry, car keys. My keys have a remote entry fob for my car, most do these days and it really doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out they can just go out to the parking lot and hit the button that makes the car honk to tell whoever has my keys to help themselves to my car. Since they also have my wallet and my identity, they can take my car to my address and know I’m not home. Why would any of the neighbours question my car in my driveway?

You don’t need an expensive security system, according to the trainers at my gym, even a piddly luggage lock is a deterrent. Locks are cheap and easy to find. Any sporting goods store will carry them, most department stores, hardware stores, even some drug stores.  Dudly provides a list of retailers on their site. Locks come in so many shapes, sizes and colours now you could even pick one to match your gym shoes if you wanted! I’m not trying to scare, I’m not warning, I’m not lecturing, I’m not asking, I am begging you, PLEASE, spend the ten bucks on a lock and secure your stuff.

I’ve never been as trusting as my Mum is. I’ve always been a lock-it-up sort of girl. But every time I go into the locker room to put my stuff away I end up opening a door or two and finding someone’s stuff. That used to annoy me, but since this happened, I get a cold lump in my stomach for the person who doesn’t mind showing me her purse unattended.