Vandals cause $200K in damage to fitness club

April 5, 2010 5:05:48 PM PDT
Shattered windows, paint thrown across floors, trashed offices -- investigators say it adds up to hundreds of thousands of dollars in damage at a local gym and they want to find the people responsible. LA Fitness employees were speechless when they walked into work Sunday morning. The business had been wrecked and even set on fire. It happened at the location on Highway 6 near Bissonnet in Fort Bend County. Deputies say what makes this so unusual is that it happened on Easter Sunday morning.

No one is swimming and not a treadmill is churning inside the vast LA Fitness center. A sign on the window barely tells the story that on Sunday morning vandals ransacked fitness center, causing $200,000 worth of damage.

Club member Vince Sloan asked, "$200,000 of damage? Don't they have some silent alarms? That takes some time to do $200,000 of damage, don't you think?"

Sloan was prepared for his racquetball game, but he won't be swinging a racquet here anytime soon.

Investigators say the vandals had a plan.

Chief Deputy Craig Brady with the Fort Bend County Sheriff's Office said, "While they were inside they discharged several fire extinguishers, poured approximately four gallons of paint throughout the building, set a small fire, which caused the sprinkler system to activate and caused extensive water damage to equipment and the building."

Although the Fort Bend County Sheriff's Department doesn't have a suspect yet, they do have suspicions.

"They recently changed management at this facility," explained Chief Deputy Brady. "A number of people were terminated. That's probably going to be the first place we start looking."

"That's terrible," said club member Jarrod McCarty. "People, I don't know why they would do something like that."

LA Fitness wouldn't talk to us on camera, so we don't know how long the club will be out of service. Sloan worries there's little that can actually be done to prevent such incidents.

"You're not going to stop that kind of crime," he said. "You're just not going to do it. I don't care if you got cameras, you got guns, it's going to happen."

There is some surveillance video. Investigators are reviewing it and we're hoping to obtain a copy once it has been released.

Anyone with information regarding this incident is asked to contact Fort Bend County Crime Stoppers at 281-342-TIPS (8477). All calls remain anonymous and could lead to a reward of up to $5,000.


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