Richard Barker Followed Men Into Gym Locker Rooms to Steal Their Car Keys, Police Say

A man with five felony convictions already on his record is facing 17 new felony charges, after police found out how he stole four cars in a little more than a month.

Phoenix police say 45-year-old Richard Barker would follow men into the locker room at their gyms, wait until they locked up their stuff, then break into that locker, taking their car keys, and eventually, their cars.

According to court documents obtained by New Times, the crimes took place from December 4 to January 11, at 24 Hour Fitness locations in northeast Phoenix.

The models of the vehicles stolen aren't provided in court documents, but include a 2006 Acura vehicle, as well as Mercedes-Benz vehicles from 2001, 2002, and 2013.

The 2001 Mercedes was stolen in December, and Barker posted it on Craigslist, according to the documents. Phoenix police Sergeant Steve Martos says a man paid $8,900 cash for the car, which he was going to give to his son as a Christmas present. That is, until he tried to register the car and found out it was stolen.

Police recovered the two other Mercedes vehicles after they were found parked in apartment-complex parking lots, but Barker was caught after detectives found the Acura on Craigslist, according to the documents.

Undercover detectives met with Barker yesterday to "buy" the Acura, and Barker gave them a fake title to the car. Barker used the name of the actual vehicle owner, according to the documents.

Detectives also reviewed surveillance footage from the 24 Hour Fitness locations. Barker would walk in the gym behind the victim, and would follow them into the locker room.

Although Barker kept going into the gyms without gym bags, he left with one on four occasions.

Taking into account other things Barker allegedly stole, which were in other people's gym bags, he racked up a total of 17 felony charges, including burglary, forgery, theft, identity theft, and others.

Barker was once sentenced to seven years to life in prison in California for stealing a car, forgery, robbery, receiving stolen property, and kidnapping during a carjacking, according to the court documents.

In this case, Barker's bond was set at $75,000. It's not clear where Barker lives, although he told detectives he lives in a hotel, but wouldn't tell them which hotel that was.

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Matthew Hendley
Contact: Matthew Hendley