Hockey teams across Calgary say their dressing rooms are being hit by thieves while they're busy on the ice. 

There have already been 17 reported thefts at arenas this year — up 50 per cent from last year, according to police.

"The increase in locker room thefts is similar to the increases we're seeing in car prowlings, vehicle thefts and other crimes of opportunity," says Calgary police spokesperson Kevin Brookwell.

'We had about 15 players and around two-thirds of the team had their wallets and phones stolen' - Dylan Zimmerman, Player whose wallet was stolen

"You look at the drug issues we're faced with and the crime that has to be committed for some people to fuel that drug habit, and you have to think that for some people the current economic conditions in Calgary might also play a factor in this," he added.

Thieves are targeting unlocked dressing rooms and even gaining access to some locked dressing rooms through secondary doors that can be accessed via benches in some arenas.

They are taking credit cards, cash, smartphones, jewellery and other valuables.

Arena hit twice in two days

Dylan Zimmerman

Dylan Zimmerman's credit card was stolen from the Trico locker room. (Submitted)

Dylan Zimmerman's team dressing room got hit at the Trico Centre in southeast Calgary last week.

"We had about 15 players and around two-thirds of the team had their wallets and phones stolen," says Zimmerman.

"The culprit managed to get to a liquor store and a gas station and use the tap function on my credit card before our game had even finished."

The players believe the thief accessed the locker room through a secondary door that connects to the bench — which can't be locked from the outside.

"So if someone had the guts to walk up to the end of the bench, he could wait and just slip into the room when nobody's looking, which we think was what happened," says Zimmerman.

The Trico arena was targeted by thieves twice in two days last week.

They say whenever thefts happen, information is shared among the Calgary Arena Managers Association to make other arenas aware.

They are encouraging arena users to not bring valuables into the building. 

Security stepped up

Andrew Yip

'We don't start any game until we have both locker room keys in my hand and we're always on the lookout for anybody suspicious,' says organizer Andrew Yip. (Dan McGarvey/CBC)

Andrew Yip has run his Iceman Hockey shinny sessions seven nights a week for the last six years.

The referee and organizer says he's hearing more anecdotal reports of thieves targeting dressing rooms.

"In the last few months I'm hearing thefts are going up. You're seeing posters around the arenas, seeing security tightened and the rink guys are getting the dressing room keys back faster than usual after games," says Yip.

"We have security protocol and measures that we take during all of our games and it's worked very well so far, thankfully," he said.

"We don't start any game until we have both locker room keys in my hand and we're always on the lookout for anybody suspicious."

Police say the way crimes are reported, and the fact many people don't report some thefts at all, means the 50% increase they're seeing this year could be even higher. 

"We do try to encourage people to report even the smallest of thefts, because if we start to see a trend we can then pay special attention to it," says Brookwell. 

"But often you see folks writing it off and saying, 'It's my fault, I should have known better.'"

Corrections

  • An earlier version of this story said thefts were up 15 per cent. In fact, thefts are up 50 per cent.
    Mar 27, 2016 3:24 PM MT