I never thought a stranger would actually come into our association office building and rob it mid-day, with staff in the building (including me), until it happened.
A few weeks ago, a man walked into the back door of our association, into my office (steps away from the back door), and stole my wallet and Blackberry. Probably took less than 30 seconds. It was clear it was a man, and a stranger, as there is surveillance tape at local businesses where my credit card was used within minutes of the theft. The purpose of stealing a Blackberry is the first thing most do when they discover it missing is to call their own number - which alerts the thief when to stop using cards.
In talking with local police and local businesses, here are common ways to allow your association to be robbed mid-day, and how you can prevent it:
1. Keeping back doors unlocked. It may be a nuisance to always have to use a key, but it provides the best protection for your office staff and items to have locked doors.
2. Not noticing intentional distractions. One person comes in the front door asking for directions or pretending to solicit something, someone else comes though another door and takes items from offices and spaces.
3. Allowing "guests" to walk through the office solely by mentioning an employee name. Our neighboring office had laptops stolen by someone saying a guest of an employee (but not). It's very easy to find employee names online. Have someone either escort guests to the employee, or ask the employee to come to the front of the office.
4. Reception desk with no receptionist. Imagine how much can be taken if there is no one at the reception desk, and no bell alerting someone is coming through the front door.
5. Allowing (fake) repair people into the office. Very easy to buy branded work clothes at Goodwill, thrift stores, yard sales or online. If there is no knowledge by staff present that a repair has been ordered do not just let someone walk through your office.
Think about how much you leave on your desk, including laptops, iPads, Blackberries; and how much next to your desk, including purses, wallets. Spending a few minutes a day securing your valuables could stop it from theft - should theft be the intention of someone entering your association office building. Lock your back doors. Install notification systems for when someone enters your building during the day.
What we fortunately don't know is what would have happened had staff encountered the thief. There's much more at stake than just equipment and valuables. Take precaution.