File a police report or not?

I’ve been going to a pool at a gym for several months now to help my arthritic knees and I use short fins to help my range of motion while in the water. (Not that it matters, but these are the fins.) The gym has been busier than usual, with everyone’s New Year’s Resolutions, and when I finished my laps on Monday, the locker room was quite busy, so I sat my fins on the floor, somewhat under the bench so I could get dressed. Well, I left and forgot them.

No one has turned them in three days later, so they’re gone.

I’ve been considering filing a police report. My rationale is that any reasonable person who finds something out of the ordinary in a place of business should turn it into the office, not just have a “finders keepers” mentality. If they were left in the parking lot, I could possibly understand (but not agree with) the “finders keepers” mentality. They aren’t yours, so leave them alone, or turn them in to the office. How is walking out of the gym with property that doesn’t belong to whomever took the fins any different than walking out of a grocery store with something that doesn’t belong to them?

There’s a part of me that feels conflicted to take the time of an officer to file a report when he/she could be on a “real” call. Yet, the other part of me believes a crime, however minor, has been committed and that it should be reported. Do I think they’ll find whomever did this? No, I don’t, but I also think the gym should be on official alert that there is theft going on in their place of business. There’s also the concern that petty theft tends to be an under-reported crime and that skews factual crime reports. (Please don’t make me search to verify that…I recall reading it in a text book when I was taking a criminology class in college years ago. I wouldn’t be surprised if it still held though.)

So, file a report or not?

Edited to add that I ordered another pair and Amazon will deliver them on Friday, so I can swim again.

Good lord no. Your fins are gone and even if you file a report, I guarantee you they ain’t going to do shit about it.

ETA: Also, if one finds $20 laying on the floor, pretty sure there aren’t any laws that prohibit one from sticking it in their pocket and going on with life. Not seeing a “crime” here.

I wouldn’t file a police report but I would definitely tell a manager at the gym about it and ask them to be more vigilant against petty theft.

Yes, you should make the report, and inform the gym that you are doing so. Feedback - that would be to say, “complaining” - is crucial to any process. You have a social responsibility to complain.

I’ve completed police reports a few times; I would recommend writing up a brief statement in advance, and politely indicating you don’t really expect them to do anything about it (which is actually kind of tricky). As for wasting their time, well, that is what their time is for.

Yeah, I know I’m not getting them back and they won’t do shit about it…except file a police report, which will then be a more accurate report of the petty theft crime in that part of town.

Look at it this way: Suppose you were going to buy a house and you did due diligence in looking at the scoring of the public school system, the tax rate for the area, and the crime rate for the area. You find the crime rate, say for petty theft, is darn near non-existent. “Wonderful!” you say to yourself and buy a home. After you move in, stuff around your property begins to disappear. You mention it to a neighbor and he confides that, yeah, that’s pretty common–although crime may be insane in the area, no one really reports it.

Don’t we have an obligation (moral or whatever) to report crimes, regardless of what they are?

No. It is a matter of scale and efficiency. Think what would happen if everyone did that all the time. It would bring the police and judicial system to a grinding halt. You don’t call 911 every time you see someone speeding or littering and you shouldn’t file a police report over a pair of used Wal-Mart swim fins. There may not have been a crime at all. Maybe the janitorial staff simply threw them away or maybe someone put them into a bin for shared equipment for swimming classes or anything else. Whenever I find something that is unidentifiable to a specific person, I make an effort to find the owner but it eventually just has to go if they aren’t found in a reasonable amount of time. I make much more effort for a wallet with id and money in it than I would an old pair of shoes (both real examples).

It is ultimately your fault for leaving them for someone, anyone to deal with. That is the way it works for unidentifiable things of minor value. I made an even bigger mistake last month. I left my carry-on bag with a $200 tablet and a $50 pair of headphones plus lots of little things in the back of a rental car in Orlando. It never showed up either and I take full responsibility for it. After it was clear it wasn’t ever coming back, I just changed all my passwords for the accounts my tablet had access to, bought newer and better versions of everything in the bag and moved on with a note to pay better attention next time.

Use this as a rare opportunity go to Wal-Mart and treat yourself to a brand new set of swim fins.

Petty theft is just a fact of life. Doesn’t matter what neighborhood you live in, you leave a $20 pair of fins out, someone is likely to take them. Because really, who the heck works up a fuss over $20? Nobody really, because most people understand this is nothing to get worked up over. They also understand this world has bigger problems to worry about, and wasting police offers time with something so petty, just seems ridiculous.

You claim the reason for you wanting to file a report is an altruistic one. That may be, but I’d argue that NOT wasting LEO’s time over something so petty, you’re doing your community a bigger favor. Because I’m sure the resources involved filing your report, far exceed the $20 cost of your fins.

No report. Really, I can’t count the things I’ve left in the gym’s locker room. At least several pairs of goggles, one swim cap, and once, my swimsuit. Another time, the little bag containing little bottles of shampoo and conditioner.

Now some of these items were turned into the lost & found (including the swimsuit and the little bag) and others were not (most of the goggles). But my assumption is not so much that someone stole them, but that I left them there and when the crew came through cleaning up after the place closed, they tossed them. Or someone else tossed them because they were in the way.

It’s not a crime in the sense it would be if you left them lying on the seat of your car, and someone broke your car window to take them. It’s really not a crime at all.

Now, if someone took them while you were still in the locker room–like in the shower–that’s a little more aggressive. I still don’t know if I’d report it to the police, but I’d definitely report it to the front desk.

There’s a reason they have lockers in there.

A police report is overkill. However, you should definitely report it to the gym’s management.

It’s been just three days, and you’ve got another pair on the way. It could be that they just haven’t been turned in to lost and found yet. It looks like they’re small enough that someone may have mistakenly stuck them in their own gym bag (doubtful, I know) and will turn them in next visit. Maybe maintenance hasn’t turned them in yet. Could be a number of things. I wouldn’t bother with a police report, regardless, for reasons others have stated. I would, however, report it to the front desk.

Missing swim fins are not a police matter.

Those are some pretty sweet fins, bro. You should hire a gumshoe to follow the trail. Who knows, you may end up tearing open the seamy underbelly of gym society and exposing the intestinal sausage links of corruption to the cleansing light of the sun. Look for a guy with a widow’s peak and a bandage on his nose.

This will only happen if I get a fucking cape. And some snazzy leotards.

I do think it should be mentioned to management. Just to let them know that you still haven’t found them so they were stolen. But I’m not sure what you (Drunky Smuf) think that management is going to do about it WRT being more vigilant. The only way something like that would have been caught is to either put a camera in the locker room or have a guard in there watching each item that someone puts down and making sure someone else doesn’t pick it up. The OP, unfortunately, is in a ‘sucks to be you’ (ie finders keepers, losers weepers) situation.

Having said all that, I’d give it at least a week before I call it a loss. It’s possible that person is on some kind of weekly schedule and he hasn’t been back yet. Maybe it was an honest mistake (I know, long shot) and you’ll get them back.

Were there any kids around?

And, FTR, don’t file a police report, that seems like a waste of every one’s time. But yes, I think you should mention it to management. What seems like nothing to you might, to them, be ‘yikes, we’re going to have to talk to Fred, he promised he was going to stop doing this’.


How? Do you imagine the police are going to pour resources into the investigations of petty thievery and catch the malefactors, resulting in a jury trial? No, some older officer with a back injury will take the report, enter it in a database, send the stats to be analyzed by the FBI, resulting in a grant for community policing or at least typing lessons.

You can’t improve a situation unless you know what the situation is.

Older officers with back injuries generally have much better things to do as well. There is no proof or even strong suspicion that a crime has even been committed. You have the right to call the police every time someone steps on your lawn to report trespassing. However, it just wastes their time and makes it much less likely that they will take you seriously when you have a real crime to report.

The very second the idea popped into your head that this was something you could possibly file a police report over you had already wasted more energy on this endeavor than it is worth. I want to study your posting history to determine where your gym might be so I can steal your replacement pair.

Older officers with back injuries generally have much better things to do as well. There is no proof or even strong suspicion that a crime has even been committed. Janitorial staff probably just threw them away or put them in a bin for shared equipment because they didn’t know they were private property. I have a shared pool in my condo complex and it is impossible to know what is shared equipment and what isn’t unless someone says something. There are large bins of previously abandoned items that anyone can use. It isn’t like you can just let something left behind untouched like a Golden Idol until their negligent TRUE OWNER decides to show up and claim it. The area is cleaned and cleared every single night just like gym locker rooms are. If you want your shit, keep track of it and don’t leave it out for someone else to decide where it needs to go. You can’y leave things left alone in public places overnight or days and expect them to be exactly where you left them. Those rooms have to be cleaned and maintained regularly and anything that looks like it should be discarded will be. There is no crime in that.

You have the right to call the police every time someone steps on your lawn to report trespassing. However, it just wastes their time and makes it much less likely that they will take you seriously when you have a real crime to report.

The fact that we are discussing a used pair of Wal-Mart flippers makes this border on an Onion article.


I am not sure what you are getting at but officers and detectives almost always have much more serious “crimes” to work on. This is what I was responding to. None of the below is true. It will just irritate the people the people that take the call or, in the best case, result in some interoffice humor. There is even one better than that. You could become internet famous if you really pressed the issue and it got picked as an absurdity on Facebook or I don’t know if that response was serious or not but I can promise you that the FBI doesn’t track cases of missing used flippers in gym locker rooms.