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Securing Personal Property

Don't Let Your Personal Property Creep Away!

"Office creepers" are masters at blending into their surroundings. A harmless appearance is a clever cover for a calculated plan to prowl and pilfer.

Workers turn their backs or step away from their desks – even for just a few minutes – and cell phones, wallets, and other valuables vanish.

Often, the culprit is part of a growing army of "office creepers," criminals who take advantage of the comings and goings of a bustling workplace to slip in unnoticed and snatch what they can. Anything is fair game, from cell phones, iPods, and laptops to wallets, personal identities, and proprietary data. "Office creepers" are masters at blending into their surroundings. They are chameleons who dress to fit in with the office staff or pose as service technicians, cleaners, and delivery people.

Even when a company maintains a serious security presence with a highly-trained security officer staff, employees are ultimately responsible for the safety of their belongings and should be involved in security solutions. There is a tendency for people to have a false sense of security in their own workplaces. However, nearly 25% of all personal thefts occur while people are at work – over 2 million annually, according to a National Crime Victimization Study published by the U.S. Department of Justice.

Personal property theft in the workplace has escalated to such proportions that police in major cities like Dallas, Texas are regularly circulating lists of the top-known "office creepers."

  • Beware of "office creepers"!
  • Do not share keys, passwords, or access codes.
  • Do not leave your personal property unattended, even for a few minutes.

Simple Changes Make Workplace Theft More Difficult

Theft is a crime of opportunity. Reduce the opportunity, and you reduce the likelihood you will be victimized. Security experts offer some simple suggestions you can follow to reduce your risk of being victimized by office creepers. Secure your valuables and keep your computer off when not at your desk. In addition, don't write down your passwords on a sticky note under your calendar.

Security Solutions Involve Proactive Visitor Awareness

Employees must develop the habit of challenging anyone without the proper badge or access credentials, no matter what they are wearing. Typically these people tailgate in, looking like the people who work there.

If you see strangers wandering through offices, roaming the halls, or popping their heads in doorways, ask politely, "May I help you?" or "Who are you here to see?" An individual with legitimate business on your property will welcome your help locating his contact or escorting him to his destination, while a thief will be deterred by your lack of complacency.

If a service technician shows up to repair, replace, or remove office equipment, exercise caution. Inspect the person's badge or ID carefully. If the service call is unexpected, contact the repair company, or ask to see the work order and who approved it. Do not leave the person alone even if you know him or her. Verify written orders from the supervising office prior to removal of any property or performance of any repairs on security or communication equipment.

Tips for Securing Personal Property in Your Workplace

  • Do not loan your keys or share your access codes with anyone.
  • Do not hang keys on hooks, store them in unlocked file drawers, or leave them unattended.
  • If keys are lost, notify security staff right away, and consider re-keying if they don't turn up.
  • Maintain a key log, and establish a system for retrieving keys from employees who change assignments.
  • Keep your personal keys on a separate key ring from your office keys.
  • Use paint, non-removable labels or an engraving pen to identify office equipment, cell phones, and other portable electronics.
  • Keep an inventory of office furniture, equipment, and devices, and store it in a locked drawer or cabinet or off-site.
  • Keep a handwritten list of important contact numbers.
  • Shred papers and personal documents.
  • Memorize passwords and don't share them.
  • Do not leave your personal property unattended even for a few minutes.
  • Do not leave wallets, checkbooks, or car keys in the pockets of coats or jackets.
  • Keep coat racks and hangers away from doorways.
  • Keep purses, pocketbooks, briefcases, messenger bags, etc. in a locking drawer or cabinet. Thieves will look under your desk and in unlocked drawers or cabinets.
  • Keep desks, cabinets, and doors locked in unattended offices.
  • At the end of the workday, lock calculators and other small valuables in your desk. Lock your laptop and any data discs or drives in a cabinet, or take them home with you.
  • Consider investing in special desktop locks or cables to secure computers and larger equipment.
  • Before you leave your office, mute your telephone, forward calls, or activate voice mail, so the unanswered phone does not lead a thief to your unoccupied office.
  • Double-check your workspace before you go home.
  • Make sure that the office door is securely locked when you leave, whether for a few minutes or to go home at the end of the day.
  • Report missing property immediately.

The Best Crime Fighting Tool Ever Invented

You may wish to consider forming an Office Watch program, based on the guidelines for Neighborhood Watch, a program police departments describe as the most effective means available for keeping crimes out of neighborhoods. Crime Watch programs rely on the best crime fighting tool ever invented – a good neighbor.

In the workplace, neighboring offices, suites, and floors – and even neighboring facilities – can devise a system to 
alert each other to unauthorized intruders and potential criminal activity.

The "office creepers" invading our workplaces are typically intelligent and observant. If they find an alert security presence and a network of watchful employees at your workplace, they are likely to move on in search of easier targets.

About U.S. Security Associates

U.S. Security Associates (USA) is one of North America's largest security companies, with 160 locally-responsive offices providing premier national security services and global consulting and investigations to customers in a range of industries. Recognized for world class customer service, leading-edge technology, and an enterprise approach to risk management, USA offers optimized security solutions to meet specific customer needs. USA is committed to building quality security and risk management programs that are Safe. Secure. Friendly.® The Securing Knowledge series is part of the extensive and growing library of reference and training tools that contribute to USA's award-winning customer service and benchmark security programs. USA's investment in training and development resources is reflected not only by BEST Awards from the American Society for Training & Development, consistent ranking on the Training magazine Top 125, and technology-driven quality management system, but also by the company's leadership team, security officers, and service excellence on a daily basis.

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