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August 9, 2011

Preventing Workplace Theft

Filed under: Privacy,Safety1:46 pm

Since the onset of the current recession, police departments all over the United States are reporting increased instances of theft, burglary, and robbery. According to the Police Executive Research Forum, 44 percent of police departments have reported such increases.

If you are at all like me or most people if they would admit it, you leave personal belongings out in the open at least occasionally. Have you walked away from your work computer for any length of time without locking it? Are you certain your office building secure from outside visitors? This gives criminals easy access to walk in to your office, and walk out with a variety of stolen goods.

In addition to the company’s laptop that disappears, consider the loss to the company’s intellectual property – proposals, proprietary notes and reports, and other confidential information. Consider, too, your employee’s sense of safety and trust that their employer can take care of them.

Many of these thieves watch office buildings and know when the opportunity is just right. Using common sense and training your employees on what to do can go a long way in preventing these thefts.

  • Don’t let someone “tailgate” (follow behind you) to gain access to your building. Card readers are there for a reason: to prevent unauthorized people from getting in.
  • Leave your personal items (purse, keys, etc.) in a locked drawer – be sure to take the keys with you! If you don’t need something, leave it at home.
  • Use visitor badges to identify strangers that are supposed to be in your office, such as the telephone maintenance person. Anyone without a badge will stick out and raise suspicion. Keep it simple – the badges don’t have to be anything special, just something that identifies individuals as visitors.
  • If you see a stranger in your office, you don’t have to confront him or her yourself. Call the police or your security officer. If you choose to confront him or her, asking something as simple as “Can I help you?” is sometimes enough to deter the person.
  • If you are the last person to leave your office at the end of the day, check your co-workers’ computers, copiers, and critical files to be sure they are all secure.

Above all, communicate this to your employees and explain the reasons for your safety measures. If everyone is held to the same standards, this could help them recognize a shady character lurking about. For more information, and a security quiz, check out the USDA’s Office of Procurement and Property Management,


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