Stolen phone is returned to Hitchin gym boss – after thousands see thief in action on social media

Rob Brooks with the returned phone at Brooks Gym in Hitchin

Rob Brooks with the returned phone at Brooks Gym in Hitchin - Credit: Archant

A Hitchin gym owner and Thai boxing expert who had his phone nabbed from his premises was delighted to have had it returned – after he posted the footage of the culprit swiping it on the internet and caused a social media sensation.

Rob Brooks, 45, who is the boss of Brooks Gym on Wilbury Way, had his iPhone taken from the fitness base on Saturday.

The phone had been left on a windowsill at the gym as it played music for the members to listen to as they exercised.

Once Rob realised it had disappeared at the gym he was miffed – not only because it served as a handy jukebox to spur people on during their workouts, but also because it contained irreplaceable pictures of his two children.

It is believed the thief wiped the pictures on the memory and also all Rob’s contacts in order to be able to sell it on to someone as a ‘clean’ phone.

But canny Rob, who lives on the town’s Westmill estate, refused to be beaten – and when he checked his CCTV footage and found clear video images of a man sneakily taking the phone in broad daylight, he had a brainwave.

Rob told the Comet: “I installed the CCTV for client safety reasons as my gym is open 24 hours a day.

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“I decided to have a look through the footage which captures the man taking my phone – and then posted the footage on Facebook.

“And it wasn’t long before the clip was being shared in cyberspace, and people were soon pointing the finger at the thief.

“It wasn’t the fact it cost money – it’s far more about the principle that you shouldn’t steal from anybody.

“It’s just wrong to do that and it annoyed me.

“Within a short while people were providing me with a name to go with the face, which goes to show the power of social media.

“I was a bit angry at first – in fact you could probably say I was quite angry at what had happened – because photos of my children were wiped, as well as the fact someone had stolen from my gym.

“But the response on social media and from all the members of my gym ‘family’ was really helpful.

“And I’m glad to say my phone was returned to me this week – maybe it was because the person was embarrased at being caught in the act and being seen by thousands on social media – or maybe it was because people told him I’ve been teaching Thai boxing for 25 years!

“It’s a shame it happened, but I have to say my gym is full of wonderful people and this is such a one-off.

“I think the person in question has learned his lesson.

“I don’t think the culprit will be doing that again – certainly not when my footage has already been shared 10,000 times. The CCTV has paid for itself.”

To view the footage visit the Comet’s Facebook page.

For more information on Brooks Gym visit their Facebook page or click on their website at brooksgym.uk.

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