GARDEN CITY, NY — He looked frail and injured as he was lead out of Nassau Police Headquarters in Mineola, but detectives say it's an act.
Alberto Gil allegedly pretended to be injured so he could gain the trust of members at Lifetime Fitness in Garden City and LA Fitness in New Hyde Park, police said. He needed that trust so he could steal from gym locker rooms.
"I think that's kind of his rouse. He makes friends with everybody. He gets sympathy from everybody and he walks around with this little brace," Detective Nabil Hussain told reporters at a news conference Monday.
Gil, 55, would figure out who was wearing rolexes and other expensive watches, police said. Then, over a period of more than a year and a half, he would break into lockers and take the jewelry and watches. Police initially thought it must be an inside job, partly because of the tool they say Gil used to break into lockers.
"Very simple, it was a wooden block probably about 4 or 5 inches by 1 inch and he just uses to put next to lock mechanism and pops it out and it doesn't cause any damage."
That gave the appearance that the person who stole the contents of the locker must have had the combination. Police eventually realized Gil had been at the gym during each robbery. He also used a phony name to join both gyms.
Most gym members are just glad an arrest has been made. Anthony Santiago says won't leave anything expensive in his locker.
"I wear my Patek Phillipe watch, but I keep it on when I work out," Santiago said.
Lifetime Gym said in a statement they advise members not to bring valuable jewelry to the gym and leave it unattended.
Since April 2016, police say Gil was able to steal more than $168 thousand in watches and jewelry.