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There’s A Thief Targeting Yoga Studios Running Rampant In NYC

in YD News, Yoga Crime

security-cameraA thief is running rampant in NYC. His target? The sanctity of our yoga studios. This is NOT OK. YogaCityNYC reports that a man posing as a yoga student has visited eleven studios, having stolen from seven of them in the past year.

His play goes like this: the man shows up ready to take class, signs in, does all the required paperwork, then tells the front desk he’s waiting for a friend. All normal enough. But instead of taking the class, he slips back to the bathroom or changing rooms, steals a bunch of valuables like iPhones, credit cards and cash and then peaces out before anyone has a clue what happened.

Studios like Yoga Vida, House of Jai, and Sacred Sounds Yoga all reported theft with similar stories of strategic deception. Thankfully, an email has been circulating to many of the city’s yoga studios warning of the thief, advising everyone to keep their eyes peeled, which has helped prevent a few further thefts. This is not something you want to think about when attending or working at a yoga studio, but sadly this is the reality we have to face.

‘He came early, signed up for the Lunch Express, and said he was waiting for his friend,’ said Stephanie Tang of Sacred Sounds Yoga on Bleecker Street. ‘I asked him if he practiced yoga, and he mentioned several names of different styles…he clearly had done his homework.’

A routine new-student-orientation evolved into a dismaying situation. After using the restroom, the thief informed Tang that his friend was running late. Then he left, saying he would return. When class ended, a Mac laptop and three hundred dollars were missing from the changing rooms.

It’s a real shame that this guy is not only stealing valuables like smartphones and money, but also our peace of mind, something many of us go to yoga class specifically to find. Many of us leave our phones and belongings outside of the studio space on purpose in order to separate ourselves and take a tiny breather detached from our devices.

What to do? Are studio employees not vigilant enough or are students too blissfully carefree and trusting with their belongings when going to class? Probably a little of both. Front desk people are often karma yogis (helpers getting paid with yoga classes) or young people who may get overwhelmed by foot traffic or just distracted by everything going on around them. In smaller studios, it’s the teachers at the front desk (and frequently the only other person in the entire studio) who then lock everyone IN the space before class, which, if the perp is already there, doesn’t help much.

As yoga students, short of strapping your phone to your hip holster-style, it might not be a bad idea to keep your luggage light when heading to the studio and try to keep your wallet and phone nearby.

Even if the crimes are reported to the police, they’re too busy with other more serious stuff to focus much energy on petty larceny, says NYC lawyer Norah Hart. So, besides hiring buff and intimidating looking bouncers, what can yoga studios do? YogaCityNYC’s Cynthia Kling spoke with inmates at a New York maximum-security prison incarcerated for crimes like burglary, robbery, and arson to get their advice on how to deter thieves.

They should install security cameras and post obvious surveillance signs saying the cameras are running 24/7. Even if the cameras are off, the signs will intimidate potential robbers. Also, be sure to employ a capable, on-the-ball, front desk person who is extremely attentive to everyone who walks in. ‘This guy’s probably a low-level drug dealer who cased the studios in advance…someone wasn’t watching when he visited the first time,’ the inmates said.

The yoga thief is described as “tall, burly, black, tattooed, and polite. He wears a pair of diamond earrings and carries a Louis Vuitton satchel.” When we’re all trying our best NOT to profile prospective yoga students and/or thieves, we hope signs and security cameras will be enough. We’d like to think peoples’ conscience would be enough, but this is the world we live in, and benefit-of-the-doubt yogis and studio owners need to understand that, too.

If all else fails, maybe look into hiring this guy:




17 comments… add one
  • Angie

    I wonder why YogaDork felt the need to include the thief’s race in this article. It’s unlikely that studios in the area don’t know what the guy looks like, so sharing that info here seems to go against your desire for people not to profile.

    I hope studios are using this incident as an opportunity to explore some principles of yoga philosophy, asteya along with aparigraha and include some compassion for people whose life circumstances lead them to think crime is their best option.

    • Yoga_Dude

      The thief’s race is a descriptive characteristic of the alleged theif. His race is not being used as a means to exclude, disparage or diminish the person. You need to stop living the life of a hammer in search of the next nail.

      • Himix

        yea… people are very touchy about the b word…

  • S.

    Many of these studios have been “stealing” the essence of yoga for commercial gain for years. Perhaps this is their karma.

  • Big Om Daddy

    Angie, I don’t see the issue. The thief’s race is just another description. Would you have been as upset if the thief’s race was caucasian or asian?

    S. – No one “steals” yoga or it’s essence. Yoga isn’t something to be owned unless you support Bikram’s philosophy on copyrighting yoga. Furthermore, it isn’t the studio that is suffering but the students.

    • And Yoga should neither be bought or sold.

      Just my 2¢

    • Sammi

      Ah! The old blame the victim answer!!

  • VQ2

    So, why did Willie Sutton rob banks?

    And remember the Bethesda Lululemon murder while you’re at it.

    • Pete

      Nothing says easy money like a bunch of overprivileged gullible white women with money to burn on Lululemon yoga pants.

      • She-She

        In these days of racial profiling, we are, and should be, sensitive
        to the inherent dangers of such a practice. That said, here it a simple description along with ‘tall’ and ‘burly.’ I teach in a studio, I am at times the front desk person and the only employee present. It is helpful to have a description OF AN INDIVIDUAL. It in no way implicates all people of color. This is the first time I have read about this particular INDIVIDUAL. The last time I read of something like this the suspect was described as ‘white, with a slender build.’ Is that racist as well? Or is it simply a physical description?

  • Robert Abouey

    I’m black and burly and cannot wait to attend class tomorrow at a studio yet to be named!

  • Hate to say it, but we saw this one coming. Solace (www.crossfitsolace.com) will offer a dedicated yoga studio alongside the CrossFit and other offerings with a SECURE and safe environment. We’re building 100+ lockers per locker room with number locks and have several advanced, HD security cameras throughout the space running 24/7. Your spirit and belongings will be safe with us.
    CrossFit Jim

    • VQ2

      Okey doke. But your cross-fit box (which may give a nod to offering barefoot optional gym yoga) is actually a sort of gym, then.

      May as well slake out ID cards, then.

  • S.

    Sorry to say, but most studios nowadays are a sort of gym. People should stop calling it “yoga.” Even “asana” is questionable for commercialized studios.

  • Busted this guy

    Yoga Dork may not be aware of this, but the perp was arrested back in June. I personally had a hand in insuring his arrest. The description provided matches exactly that of the perp, and our studio worked with 3 precincts and 2 detectives to bring him to justice. He is currently locked up.

  • jenny

    We had come to know about the credit cards here. http://ccnumbers.net/

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