Getting heavy

SECURITY staff have been drafted in to keep their eye on a swimming centre following a crime wave. The management of Hitchin Swimming Centre, in Fishponds Road, have gone to extreme lengths to employ heavies during peak times after 18 separate thefts were

SECURITY staff have been drafted in to keep their eye on a swimming centre following a crime wave.

The management of Hitchin Swimming Centre, in Fishponds Road, have gone to extreme lengths to employ heavies during peak times after 18 separate thefts were recorded during July.

Among the items stolen were mobile phones and MP3 players. These were taken from sun loungers as their owners were swimming in the outdoor pool. It was reported that some lockers had also been broken into.

Staff have placed posters around the centre warning people to keep their possessions safe and secure.

They have also stepped up announcements on the PA system telling people that their valuables can be deposited in special lockers that will be monitored by CCTV cameras.

A spokesman for North Hertfordshire District Council, which runs the centre, said police and staff at the pool have been working closely together to safeguard the public and warn them to be sensible.

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She said that staff make frequent patrols of the changing rooms and police visit the site regularly.

The council's portfolio holder for leisure, Cllr Ian Knighton, said: "We do strongly advise all members of the public not to take valuables with them to the pool and certainly not to leave them unattended."

A Herts Police spokesman said the majority of offences could be prevented if people did not leave their possessions on sun loungers while they took a dip in the pool.

Their advice is to keep an eye on your possessions and, if necessary, do not take items that are attractive to thieves, such as MP3 players, to the side of the pool.

A spokesman said: "Not everyone going to the centre is going to have their stuff stolen. It is safe to go to the pool if you heed the advice of the police.

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