Fake Fire Inspector Rips Off Downtown Athletic Club

Man issued "fines" to be paid in case, police say.

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    BROOKLYN, NEW YORK - JANUARY 2: People run on treadmills at a New York Sports Club January 2, 2003 in Brooklyn, New York. Thousands of people around the country join health clubs in the first week of the new year as part of their New Year's resolution. Many health clubs see a surge in business of 25 percent immediately after the new year, only to see those numbers level off by spring. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

    A man posing as a Chicago Fire Department inspector stole more than $500 from a downtown athletic club Saturday morning.

    The man entered the Lakeshore Athletic Club at 211 N. Stetson Ave. about 8:30 a.m. and told the staff he was a Chicago Fire Department inspector, police said.

    Police News Affairs Officer Daniel O’Brien said the man deceived the staff and stole more than $500. He told staff the facility was in violation of fire codes and issued “fines” that staff members paid in cash, police said. It was not clear if all the stolen cash was from the “fines” or if he also stole money from other locations.

    The imposter is described as a 55- to 60-year-old “clean-cut” man, O’Brien said. He was about 6-feet tall and wore a blue coat with “Chicago Fire Department” on the back, a gold cap and blue jeans.

    Fire department investigators do not usually conduct inspections on weekends – except at night at bars and nightclubs, Fire Media Affairs spokesman Quention Curtis said.

    “You know when we are there. It’s a whole task force that does nightclubs and bars,” Curtis said. “There is more than one guy -- it’s a task force. They are in full dress uniform and have badges on and everything. You are crystal clear this is a task force. There is no doubt when they pull up.”

    Police said there was a similar incident Downtown about a month ago where a man posed as a People’s Gas employee. Police did not know if the incidents were related, and did not provide further details on the People’s Gas incident.

    Curtis said anyone unsure about the legitimacy of a fire inspector should call 911.