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Tighter rec center security considered

Options floated to protect vanishing valuables

POSTED: January 10, 2013 12:33 a.m.

Recent thefts from local recreation centers have led the Forsyth County’s parks and recreation board to consider tightening security measures at the facilities.

During its meeting Tuesday night, the board discussed the possibility of requiring visitors to scan an identifying key card when entering a center to keep a record of building traffic.

Thefts of personal items at the county’s three centers have occurred when valuables are left unattended, said Jim Brennan, manager of the recreation program division.

“Everyone’s responsible for whatever you bring into the rec center,” Brennan said. “We’ve been telling not only kids but adults for years: Don’t bring your valuables in … If somebody walks by and sees an iPhone or a wallet sitting there, it happens.”

Recently, a father asked to review the security cameras at Old Atlanta Recreation Center after his son’s basketball was thought to have been stolen. The man wasn’t happy when he learned the county centers have none, Brennan said.

The county has considered adding some cameras, but isn’t recommending the step at this time. “Obviously, that would be very costly, and I’m not sure it would eliminate theft in general,” Brennan said.

Installing lockers was also considered, but Brennan noted the boxes are pay by the use. He doesn’t expect youth coming to play basketball to use them much.

And that’s the group that is typically targeted for thefts, as they pull everything in their pockets out and leave it in the bleachers, he said.

The county currently uses a keycard scanner for people with gym or fitness class memberships, so the software could possibly be extended for use to those who use basketball gyms, indoor walking tracks and other free amenities in the centers.

The card stores a photo, phone number and address of the person, which would leave a record of comings and goings from a facility.

However, the county would have to charge for the expense of the keycard. If the board decides to move forward, Brennan proposed charging a few dollars for membership.

Planning board member Todd Holbrook said the cost for a membership, though minimal, would probably draw some negative feedback.

“There comes a point when you have to take that on, especially for the security reasons,” Holbrook said.

Also in reviewing the center operations manual, the board discussed possibly having a lower facility rental rate for nonprofits.

The board plans to revisit both issues after further review by staff.



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