First a fire, then a break-in: Underground Gym drop-in centre for kids in Thunder Bay dealt another blow

The Underground Gym (UG), in Thunder Bay, Ont. has been dealt another blow.

After a fire seriously damaged the building on Simpson Street in Nov. 2019, UG founder Peter Panetta said the gym was broken into sometime this week.

Panetta said although the gym has been closed since the fire, there was still plenty of boxing equipment and musical instruments being stored there, as well as other items.

He said when he went to check on the building Thursday night, he found the front door was already open.

Panetta said whoever broke in did not leave much behind.

‘You know there’s been a robbery’

“I walk in and look over to the right in the kitchen and I had put a guitar on the kitchen table to lend it to one of the underground kids that loves playing the guitar,” he said. “And it was gone. So I knew right away. You know there’s been a robbery. And the pantry door was broken and everything in there is gone.”

Panetta said even the heavy boxing bags that weigh upwards of 50 kg had been removed, as had a drum kit and all the toilet paper. He said about 90 per cent of what was being stored in the building was stolen, and considerable damage had been done to whatever was left.

Since the fire, Panetta had been running the gym from his van, picking up youtng people and taking them to various activities throughout the city.

Looking for new home, new equipment

Panetta said he is still looking for a new home for the Underground Gym, although he will now need new equipment as well.

But he said all the  stolen gear was donated, and he hopes if he can find a new building for the gym, other donations will follow.

“It was just sitting there,” he said. “And it could have sat there for the next two years until I find a new location. I know about street crime and I know exactly what’s going on…but to trash [the interior] that’s the thing I don’t understand.”

Panetta said he has reported the incident to the Thunder Bay Police Service, although he said the equipment was not insured.


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