On Monday I pulled into the parking lot, grabbed my lunch and half empty coffee cup and casually strolled into the office. I was stopped by the people at the front desk with shocking news. We had been robbed! The building was broken into over the weekend. Missing items included a lap top, some tools and a few other items including a credit card.
When that happens you kind of kick yourself and then chalk it up to experience, tighten security and move on. But a different lesson started to emerge from the incident when the detective from the local police department showed up to tell us about the progress on the case.
The officer relayed like most criminals, the guy that broke into our office was no Mensa member. He took the credit card and immediately went to his friendly neighborhood Walmart store to make a small charge; more than likely to test if he could get away with getting something larger. For the police it was as simple as looking for the transaction from our credit card records and voila we had a great snap shot of the would be master criminal. He also went to an ATM to try to withdraw some cash. A difficult proposition it you don’t have the PIN. But, again although he didn’t hit the jackpot, he did get several quality photos taken of himself! Suitable for framing.
However, the Walmart photo revealed the lesson that we can all learn and apply to our businesses. When he waltzed into the store he was wearing a hard hat and a day-glow safety vest. I guess he was trying to look official or like he was a hard working, lunch pail toting, regular guy with some authority, all decked out in his costume. His trick may have gotten him some undeserved respect in Walmart, but what this rocket scientist didn’t know is that ultimately it just made it easier to find him in the photographs the cops needed. It was not a case of Where’s Waldo! Let’s face it day-glow, construction yellow kind of sticks out like a sore thumb, painted day-glow yellow.
The lesson is that work sites, large buildings, schools and other areas with and without elevators have lots of people coming and going all the time. Some are wearing hard hats, some are wearing safety vests and rarely there is a check of ID or verification that the person wandering around is who they are representing they are.
It is a good idea to have a “check in” area for workers, contractors and subcontractors and keep close tabs on who comes and goes. Just because a person says they are from your elevator company doesn’t mean that they are. We feel it is not a nuisance to be asked for a company ID. If you have your suspicions call in and ask the company. This is especially true if it is someone you don’t recognize or hasn’t been to your building before. This lesson is even for owners of smaller buildings who sometimes tend to be more trusting. For elevator companies it should mean that introductions should be made and checking in is a must before you get to work.