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Police Accuse Salesman of Widespread Gym Locker Thefts

<i> Associated Press</i>

While gym-goers were busy lifting weights at health clubs in 16 states, Matthew Phelan was lifting their wallets, authorities allege.

Phelan, 38, has been charged with grand larceny. He is accused of cracking open gym lockers to steal credit cards and using them to buy pricey merchandise, Albany County sheriff’s Capt. Craig Apple said Tuesday.

Phelan, a salesman, allegedly shipped the goods he purchased to the Albany International Airport. When he returned from his trips he would sell the items at lower than retail value, but not low enough to draw suspicion about the price, Apple said. After paying expenses, the operation would clear about 40% of the sale as profit, Apple said.

Albany County authorities said Phelan flew around the country, signing in at health fitness centers and country clubs as a guest from Massachusetts to Arizona. After charge cards and Social Security cards were taken, wallets and purses were put back in the lockers just as they were found.

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Dozens of computers, cassette players, golf clubs and other items were recovered at Phelan’s home, police said. Other equipment has been tracked to Italy and South America.


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