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Local gym boosting security after homeless man found living there

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Posted at 9:39 AM, Apr 22, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-23 19:01:57-04

UPDATE: 3:40 p.m. April 23, 2021.

A local health club is extending security checks seven days a week after a homeless man was found living inside the gymnasium's ceiling.

Freedom Fitness said the man who illegally broke into the ceiling of their South Padre Island Drive location entered sometime over the weekend. It previously performed security and maintenance checks on a Monday-Friday basis.

The company said the checks now will also include the parking lot, surrounding parking lots and exterior building checks to ensure the safety of their members and staff and also neighboring businesses.

Thomas Garcia, the suspect in the crime, remains in jail today under bonds totaling $13,000, police said.

According to police, they received a call around 2:30 a.m. Monday about an incident at Freedom Fitness on the 5800 block of South Padre Island Drive. When they arrived, an employee said someone got into the building and may have been in the gym's ceiling.

Moments later, officers found Thomas Garcia kicked a section of air duct open and crawled across the rafters above the women's restroom. The officers grabbed a ladder and found Garcia hiding in a space above the women's lockers. When officers asked him to come to them, Garcia said he had nowhere to go and was homeless. Garcia eventually came down the ladder and was arrested.

Officers quickly confiscated his phone. And after running a records check, officers learned that Garcia is a registered sex offender and a gang member.

According to Corpus Christi Police Department Public Information Officer Lt. Mike Pena, a detective has already been assigned to the case.

The man has been charged with burglary of a building, criminal mischief, and voyeurism.

According to the police report, Garcia's phone was placed into evidence since it may contain photos or videos of women in the gym's dressing room.

The report also states that Garcia was charged with voyeurism because he had moved ceiling tiles above the women's dressing room allowing for a view of women as they dressed.

A bond has been set for Garcia at $13,000.

Garcia was issued a criminal trespass warning for all Freedom Fitness locations in Corpus Christi.

Freedom Fitness sent a statement that reads:

"On Monday, April 19th, members of our staff discovered a homeless man illegally living in the ceiling of our SPID location. This man broke into our facility without our knowledge and the authorities were immediately notified."