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

Oliver woman reflects on prestigious win at Westminster dog show

“Polly” the Scottish deerhound was crowned best in breed and reserve best hound.

Okanagan School of the Arts launching first exhibit of 2020

“The work we’ve received is incredibly colourful and vibrant…” - OSA executive director, Kim Palmer.

South Okanagan mountain bore racist name for a half century

Nkawala Mountain was initially named in connection with the deaths of two black men.

The tragic tale of two Summerland men who perished on Christmas Day 1908

More than a century later, the events surrounding the men’s deaths are still somewhat of a mystery.

‘God is a Scottish Drag Queen’ coming to the South Okanagan

Comedian Mike Delamont’s show opens on March 14 at Venables Theatre in Oliver.

Kelowna’s Family YMCA opens doors on Family Day

The entire day was free for the community

Canucks acquire forward Tyler Toffoli from Kings in push for playoffs

Vancouver sends Schaller, Madden, pick to L.A.

RCMP report woman arrested after ramming police cruiser

Suspect wanted for crimes allegedly committed in Kelowna, Salmon Arm and 100 Mile House

New highway proposed between Alberta and B.C.

The route would connect Red Deer to Kamloops

Wet’suwet’en and B.C. government have been talking Aboriginal title for a year

Coastal GasLink says it has agreements with all 20 elected First Nations councils along the 670-kilometre route

Trudeau tightlipped on plan to end protests ‘quickly and peacefully’

The prime minister, who cancelled a two-day trip to Barbados this week to deal with the crisis at home

B.C. budget expected to stay the course as economic growth moderates

Finance minister said ICBC costs have affected budget

Canadian standards for coronavirus protection to be reviewed, health agency says

The protocols set out how health workers should protect themselves and their patients

Kelowna RCMP arrest alleged impaired driver

The driver is facing potential charges after power pole collision

Most Read