Most criminals know that the best way to successfully commit a crime is to allow their victims to remain comfortable. The very worst criminals are the ones who look harmless and blend in with their surroundings. While taking advantage of these basic criminal principals, an increasing number of normal every day people are committing potentially serious property crimes. They're called "office creepers", and they're becoming more common. These brazen crooks embody a caustic blend of impersonation, stalking, and thievery.
The city of Dallas made national news recently when police there arrested yet another office creeper. It seems that the problem has become quite severe there. The perpetrators pose as people who would be expected to enter a business facility, and then once inside, they find easy prey. These stealthy thieves will pose as package delivery people, janitors, service people, sales people, and sometimes even as employees. The larger the facility, the easier the target. The problem has become so routine in Dallas, that now police there regularly circulate a list of the top known office creepers.
The Dallas Morning News, via dallasnews.com, published a report which outlines the city's growing office creeper problem. The report indicates the ease with which these perpetrators are gaining entrance to businesses in order to commit their crimes. The report quotes Officer Eric Tabbert as stating, "They catch somebody coming in or out of the door, and 'Pardon me, can you hold the door a minute?' " Once in, they prey on easy targets. The employee, thinking they're doing somebody a favor, is just basically inviting a thief in..."
The following is a list of simple strategies which employees and their companies can use to thwart the attempts of office creepers in the practice of their trade. This outline may help you to protect yourself, your belongings and your coworkers from would be office place thieves -or worse.
Don't be so trusting: If you see someone in your workplace who is strange to you, don't assume that they belong there. Feel free to ask who they are and what they are doing. Take a look at what they have in their hands. If you are ever unsure or uncomfortable about a person's right to be in your workplace, ask someone who is in charge to investigate the situation.
Secure your personal space: If possible, make your work area safer. Try not to work with your back to the door, because you want to see who is coming into your space. Make sure that people who are entering your work space have a right to be there. Make sure that people leave when they are supposed to.
Make your position clear: Let your coworkers know that you are interested in office safety and security. Discuss ways that you and your coworkers can easily protect yourselves and your property. Declare that thieves shall be apprehended and properly dealt with in all instances.
Keep tabs on valuables: Even when you leave your workspace for only a moment, be aware of your personal belongings. Is your purse hung over the back of your chair, or is it tucked in the back of a lower file cabinet drawer? Office creepers are criminals of opportunity. They swipe things quickly when no one is looking. Prevent the opportunity for a quick grab. Perhaps it's best to take that $2000 laptop to the restroom with you or ask someone to keep an eye on it..
Bring your supplies: Make one trip each day for the supplies you need. If you need things from a supply room, try to get all you need in one trip at the beginning of the day. Keep bottled water at your desk, rather than making recurring trips to the water cooler. Keep your snacks on hand, rather than making random trips to a break room or cafeteria. Be neat, organized, and pay attention to details.
Maintain door security: Never allow someone you don't know to gain access to areas by entering with you. This is especially true if the area requires a unique key or security pass. Make sure that security doors always latch behind you. Never lend someone your security pass or key without iron clad authorization. Better yet, send them to your superiors if you have any doubts.
The above suggestions are just a few principals which can help to decrease instances of workplace thievery. More intensive security measures will require the implementation of a company-wide strategy which should include broad communication of standards, instruction on security practices, and possible security equipment installations.
Being aware of potential security threats, and informing employees about those threats and the remedies for them, can go a long way to improving overall workplace security. Don't allow a phone call to the police to be your first move in addressing the safety of your place of employment. Personal security is the foremost responsibility of everyone. We each should be responsible to help provide security for us all.
Don't be a victim of office creepers!