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There is a difference between the creepy guy who works in your office and the burglar who nabs company equipment. The “Office Creeper” is an individual who enters a building disguised as a fellow office worker or a stranger posing as a repair, delivery, cleaning or other service personnel.
This person could be a man or woman dressed in attire that is appropriate for your work environment. A guy delivering coupons for local restaurants, although unsolicited, does not necessarily constitute an Office Creeper.
Cause for concern is real. In February 2012, Metro Atlanta authorities identified a man wanted for stealing laptops up-and-down the East Coast. Also, in the fall of 2012, another individual disguised as a maintenance worker stole wallets and purses from cancer patients and other people at doctors’ offices in northern Virginia.
Follow these simple tips to avert the threat of an Office Creeper:
1. Secure personal space, including computers and valuables
It is important for all employees to keep personal items (especially valuables) locked away and avoid leaving them unattended. Also, make sure office supplies are stowed away properly. Having office supplies is, of course, vital. Without it the office wouldn’t function. You wouldn’t want to let the ‘office creeper’ get his hands on any new equipment or stealing your Promotion Choice pens from your office. Consider using security cables to attach laptops to sturdy, immovable objects. Keep coat racks and hangers away from hallways and highly trafficked areas.
2. Get to know people
Knowing the employees who work in your building will help you to identify who should and should not be there.
3. Hire office security
A security desk at the building entrance can be a deterrent and professional security personnel are available for hire (such as Allied Barton). Take note of any suspicious activity and report it to security personnel.
4. Use ID badges
Personal identification badges with a logo of the company and a name and picture of the employee help to decrease office creeper thefts. These IDs make it easier for employees to recognize if someone does not belong in their work area. This may be especially helpful in a large office building occupied by many companies.
5. Don’t be afraid to ask why someone is there!
Usually an officer creeper will not know their way around, and may be looking around in an area that is not normally accessed by a visitor. They will also be by themselves. If something does not seem right, make sure to ask them an open-ended question such as, “Who may I help you locate?” The creeper will most likely come up with an excuses and quickly leave. If they do (or do not leave) contact office security either way.
6. Know what you have and what could go missing
Keeping a log of office materials, electronics and valuables is very beneficial in the event something is taken.
7. Enforce Visitor Registration
Abide by a strict visitation policy that requires visitors register at the front desk and wear identification while in the building. Immediately notify security if a person is not properly identified.
8. Know where visitors are allowed to be
Visitors are typically only allowed in certain areas of the office. If you see someone you do not know who does not have proper identification in a non-visitor area, such as someone’s cube, and they are unaccompanied, confront them or alert security.
9. “Is anybody there?”
When the office is empty, make sure to keep the door locked and the telephone ringer off. Thieves will listen for unanswered phones to find empty offices.
10. Have an Emergency Response Plan
Ensure the crisis team managers have communicated the proper protocol. Part of the response plan is knowing the procedures, but just as important is knowing who is responsible on your staff and ensuring they have the proper contact information for security or local authorities.
Download our complete checklist on how to confront the Office Creeper. For more information, contact Preparis directly or give us a call at 404.662.2950. Also, follow us on Twitter and Facebook for daily updates on industry news and events.
Marlia Fontaine-Weisse is the Content Manager for Preparis.