DENVER -- In an about-face late Friday, the staff at Elitch Gardens decided to make security changes following a Denver7 Investigates story that exposed thieves easily stealing belongings from park guests.
"After further review and in consideration of concerns from our guests, we have decided to add back the loose article non-secure cubbies to the loading/unloading platform of the Mind Eraser ride in time for tomorrow's park opening," the statement says in part. The full statement is posted below.
Thursday night, the Denver7 Investigates team first reported on the concerns.
Multiple people had contacted the station believing the park was placing its revenue interests ahead of park security. It had removed free cubbies from the platform of the Mind Eraser rollercoaster this year, one of its most popular rides, and encouraged guests to secure their belongings in one-time use, $2 lockers nearby instead.
Left without the money necessary to pay for the lockers, people -- especially children -- were placing their bags in front of the lockers or in the relocated free cubbies several hundred feet from the ride platform. Thieves quickly took advantage of the opportunity.
A man walked off with a backpack placed in the cubbies by a Denver7 crew within 15 minutes. The crew confronted the man and retrieved the bag. The area does not have surveillance cameras nor is security personnel permanently positioned there.
Denver7 Investigates uncovered a half dozen Denver police reports that made specific reference to thefts at the Mind Eraser this year.
Earlier this week, the park refused to answer questions about the security concerns on-camera, but said in a statement that it implemented the $2 lockers to improve security.
In an email to one of the families who contacted Denver7, the park's operations manager said earlier this year that they removed the free cubbies on the ride platform to reduce ride downtime and because of theft concerns on the platform.
The following is the full statement from Elitch Gardens:
After further review and in consideration of concerns from our guests, we have decided to add back the loose article non-secure cubbies to the loading/unloading platform of the Mind Eraser ride in time for tomorrow’s park opening. One of the reasons they were removed from this location originally was that secure, one-time use lockers were provided this season in order to reduce the risk of theft. While returning the cubbies for loose articles to the ride platform, we still caution guests not to leave any valuables unattended and suggest storing only non-valuable items in them like souvenir bottles, towels or stuffed animals. We encourage riders to use a secure locker or ask members of their party to take turns holding valuable items while they enjoy the ride. Unfortunately, in today’s world, leaving valuable items unattended in any public place is putting them at risk for theft. At Elitch Gardens, we serve over a million people annually and employ a uniformed security team, off-duty Denver police officers and undercover agents. However, valuables will still be at risk for theft if left unattended. We ask our guests to join us in assuring their valuables are safe and sound.