A close-up of a camera Chilliwack resident Paul Serdar found hidden in a stand-up tanning booth at Planet Fitness in Chilliwack on August 8, 2019. (Paul Serdar)

Hidden camera at B.C. Planet Fitness was found months before clients informed

Incident reported more than two months ago but Paul Serdar has heard nothing

Paul Serdar was in a stand-up tanning booth at Planet Fitness in Chilliwack on a Thursday more than two months ago when something didn’t feel right.

He was part-way through a nine-minute tanning session when he looked around. Even with the bright lights and wearing goggles it was obvious: a camera.

• READ MORE: Hidden camera found in tanning bed at Chilliwack’s Planet Fitness

“You could see the lens poking through,” Serdar told The Progress Wednesday.

What he found was a sophisticated camera set-up in tanning booth number three. He went back to his locker, got his phone and took some photos before he went to get the manager.

A photo Paul Serdar took of the Planet Fitness Chilliwack manager removing the hidden camera he found in a stand-up tanning booth at Planet Fitness in Chilliwack on August 8, 2019. (Paul Serdar)

“She came back and said, ‘no, no, no, it’s a thermometer,’” Serdar said. “I said ‘listen lady, I’ve been in the food industry for 29 years and I’ve never seen a thermometer with a fish-eye lens.’”

Serdar left, asking what she was going to do. He came back the next day and waited 40 minutes for her to speak to him. Finally she admitted it was a camera, said “sorry” and told him that the police were called.

All of this was back on August 8, something Chilliwack RCMP confirmed this week.

Chilliwack RCMP spokesperson Cpl. Mike Rail said that day they received a report that “suspicious electronic devices — cameras — were discovered in a business in the 45000-block of Luckakuck Way.”

Rail said the RCMP Serious Crime Section has conduct of the investigation.

U.S.-based Planet Fitness senior public relations manager Becky Zirlen also confirmed this week that a “recording device” was found, and that the franchise owner was working with the RCMP.

But until a few days ago and a post on Facebook, there was no word that a police investigation was underway, no notification from Planet Fitness this had been found, and no one had told gym members if cameras were found anywhere else.

Serdar personally examined the other stand-up tanning booths and can confirm there were no other cameras in those units. He even attended the Abbotsford Planet Fitness and looked in a booth and found nothing.

But what about showers, washrooms, changerooms? When asked in a follow-up email, Zirlen did not immediately respond. Cpl. Rail similarly said nothing more could be said because the file is under investigation.

“We understand people’s concerns and Chilliwack RCMP are actively pursuing our investigation of the report,” Cpl. Rail said. “As police move forward with our investigation the integrity of the investigation, the evidence obtained, and the privacy of those who might be potential victims remains a high priority to us.”

Another Planet Fitness Chilliwack member named Pat — who asked that her last name not be used — said she likes the club very much because it is so clean, but is upset about the lack of communication or responses to her questions.

“It’s very disturbing that we aren’t getting any information,” Pat said. “I understand it’s an investigation but they should let the public know or the members know. I don’t know where else to go. I phoned Planet Fitness. I phoned the RCMP…. It’s really maddening.”

As for Serdar, he has been sitting on the photos he took and the fact that he was the one who found the camera for two months until someone, he doesn’t know who, mentioned it on Facebook.

The incident had him shaken, leading him to seek counselling. He tried to get a lawyer involved but all of them wanted money to even talk so he waited. Finally he did get some legal advice, which in part was to not call police since Planet Fitness called police already.

But why have police not contacted him, two months later? He has no idea.

“I assumed the police were investigating and they would want to talk to me,” he said.

Serdar said the camera he found was larger than a large iPhone, maybe eight inches, by four inches, by 1.5 inches. And the wires from the camera were tied up running along the cables that went to the control unit of the tanning booth. He added that it was tanning booth number three, the closest one behind the desk where the staff computers are.

Now that it’s out, he said Planet Fitness members are calling him, the media is calling him, but still nothing from the RCMP. So he’s waiting.

As for his membership, he cancelled it but Planet Fitness charged him approximately $70 to get out of his contract.

Anyone who believes they may have been the subject of videoing or has any information regarding this investigation is urged to contact the Chilliwack RCMP at 604-792-4611.


@PeeJayAitch
paul.henderson@theprogress.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

 

A photo Paul Serdar took of the Planet Fitness Chilliwack manager removing the hidden camera he found in a stand-up tanning booth at Planet Fitness in Chilliwack on August 8, 2019. (Paul Serdar)

Just Posted

Three men face attempted murder charges after Harrison Hot Springs stabbing

Man, 24, sent to hospital with life-threatening injuries following attack Wednesday

Four activists face charges linked to 2019 Abbotsford hog-farm protest

Mischief and break-and-enter charges laid for incidents on four separate days prior to the protest

Delays expected eastbound on Highway 1 near Herrling Island after vehicle incident

Drive BC says their crews, and Emil Anderson Maintenance, are en route to the scene

Chilliwack children can get tested locally, Fraser Health confirms

Erroneous information online and via 811 has many families driving to Abbotsford for testing

Highway 3 open after five hour closure west of Princeton

Vehicle incident 39 kilometres west of Princeton had highway closed most of Thursday

371 British Columbians battling COVID-19, health officials confirm

Thursday (Aug. 6) saw a second straight day of nearly 50 new confirmed cases

Answers to 5 common questions facing families for the COVID-19 school year

COVID-19 protocols are likely to vary even more at the school board level, and even and school-to-school.

Visitors and non-residents entering closed remote B.C. First Nation’s territories

With limited resources, they say they don’t have any authority or power to enforce the closures

UBC loses appeal on Fisheries Act convictions

BC Supreme Court upholds order to pay $1.55-million fine

‘Tiny home’ being built for Abbotsford woman with severe allergies

Online campaign raises $59,000 for custom cargo trailer for Katie Hobson

Masks to be mandatory on BC Transit, TransLink starting Aug. 24

Both BC Transit and TransLink made the announcement in separate press releases on Thursday

Acclaimed B.C. actor Brent Carver passes away

Carver, one of Canada’s greatest actors with a career spanning 40 years, passed away at home in Cranbrook

B.C. would not send students back to school if there was ‘overwhelming risk’: Horgan

Plan has left many parents across the province worried about their children’s safety

Most Read