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Theft in the Workplace - Informational Material

  The following informational brochure contains suggestions on reducing the potential for theft in the workplace.
  What is Your Theft Prevention IQ?

To find out how "office smart" you are about preventing office thefts, take the following short quiz. Check the answer(s) you think are correct. Some answers may be only partially right, or all the choices could be incorrect. Along with the answers are some common sense hints that will help you and your co-workers cut down on crime in the workplace.

  If you leave your office, what should you do with your purse or wallet? What about other valuables?

a. Put your purse under your desk or your wallet in your jacket pocket and hang it on the coat rack.
b. Keep your purse or wallet with you or locked in a secure drawer or cabinet.
c. Carry extra cash and credit cards with you.

  1. When something happens in the office - a theft or a burglary, or an act of vandalism, what should you do?

a. Nothing, it's not your problem.
b. Call the local police.
c. Call the emergency FPS telephone number for your building.

  2. If you'll be away from your desk for a few minutes, or out of the office for lunch, what is the best procedure to follow?

a. Shut and lock your office door; let the telephone ring.
b. Arrange for someone to sit at your desk and answer the phone.
c. Leave the door open and forward your calls to another office.

  3. To always know where office/personal money, credit cards, and travel authorizations are, you should:

a. Keep change or cash out of sight in a desk drawer.
b. Leave the coffee fund jar next to the coffeepot.
c. Lock all money in a secure desk or cabinet.

  4. If you discover that something is missing from your office - like equipment, a purse, or a coat - what steps should you take?

a. Call the local police and explain in detail what is missing.
b. Call the building manager or send them a memo.
c. Call the Federal Protective Service and report the missing items.

  5. When a repair-person shows up to work on equipment in the office, or to remove equipment for repair or replacement, what should you do?

a. Welcome the repair-person, it's probably been weeks since you called.
b. Ask for company identification - unless the repair-person is wearing a uniform.
c. While the work is being done, go for coffee.

  6. What is a good method of keeping track of your office equipment and furniture?

a. Leave all small equipment on top of your desk or a file cabinet so you can see if anything is missing.
b. Mark identifying numbers or symbols on equipment and furniture.
c. Keep a list of all equipment serial numbers and furniture in a safe place.

  7. What's the best way to remember the unclassified safe and vault combinations or computer passwords for your office?

a. Write them on a slip of paper and tape it to the phone.
b. Type the combinations or passwords on an index card and tape it to the side of the safe or computer.
c. Memorize the combinations and passwords.

  8. How can you guard against losing your office keys?

a. Put the keys on a ring, with an identifying tag giving name, address, and room number.
b. Carry all your office keys and personal keys on one ring.
c. Always keep your office keys in the same location on top of your desk or in the top drawer.

  9. Which of the following should you report to your FPS officer and/or building management to prevent crime in or near the building?

a. Broken or flickering lights; dimly lit corridors, stairways and restrooms; unlighted parking lot areas.
b. Doors and windows that won't lock or broken glass panes.
c. Overgrown shrubbery near doorways.

  Answers to Theft Prevention IQ Quiz

1. Answer: "b" is the correct answer for the first part of the question. Many women "hide" their purses under their desk or in a file drawer. A lot of men think their wallets are safe in their jacket pockets or briefcases. Desks, jackets, and briefcases are often the first place thieves look - and it only takes a good thief a few seconds to cause you a lot of grief. Make sure to locate coat racks away from entrances or exits to minimize temptation. As for other "valuables" treat them the same as you would cash. The best location for extra credit cards, excess cash, and checkbooks is at home. When you think about the time it would take to replace your driver's license, credit cards, checkbook - a few minutes of caution could save you hours of hassles. When you travel on official business, keep your government charge card, cash or travelers checks and tickets on your person or locked in the hotel safe. Never leave valuables in the suitcase, under the mattress, or in a coat or jacket pocket.

2. Answer: "c" is the correct answer for most GSA-controlled buildings. Find out who has the responsibility for emergencies in your building, and keep an Emergency Calls list near your phone. "a" is never correct - crime in the work place is a problem for everyone, just because you were not directly affected, doesn't mean you won't be next. As for "b" in some locations you may have to contact your local police or your building manager. Make sure you know whom to call before something happens- check with building manager.

If you see a burglary, a theft or vandalism being committed:
Stay calm, do not try to confront the person, especially if you are alone.
Call the appropriate authority immediately, emergency numbers should be posted near every phone.
Jot down a description of the person you saw. Important things to remember are: height, weight, race, age, hair color and haircut, complexion, facial hair, eyeglasses, color of eyes, scars or unusual marks.
Describe clothing, jewelry, any weapon, and if a vehicle was used, its color, make, and license number.
Information on the direction of escape may help law officers find the thief or the stolen goods.

3. Answer: "b" is the best procedure to follow. If you volunteer to return the favor, you shouldn't have much difficulty finding someone to help. Another good answer would be a combination of the first part of "a" with the last part of "c". If you simply lock the door and allow phones to go unanswered, it alerts potential thieves that your office is unoccupied. If the phone system allows, call forward to a neighboring office or activate the voice mail or answering machine. Even if you're only going to be gone for a few minutes, and you cannot find someone to office-sit, forward your calls and lock the door. It only takes one lapse of a few minutes to present an opportunity to a thief.

4. Answer: "c" is the correct procedure. Never leave money, credit cards, travel documents, or anything else of value in an unlocked desk or cabinet. Why take chances on something disappearing, secure all valuables. If you have a coffee fund or office kitty that starts to add up to real money, open a credit union account and start earning interest. Never post a sign with the name of the person responsible for collecting the money - that leads the thieves to the right desk.

5. Answer: "All three" answers may be correct depending on the location of your building. Always make sure you report anything stolen - government or personal property - to the Federal Protective Service, the local police, or the building manager. Check with your local representative to find out where to report thefts in your building. When you find something missing from the office, call the FPS office immediately. Try to remember the last time you saw the item and its location. Describe the item thoroughly. If it is marked with an identification number or symbol, let the officer know the specifics. (See crime prevention tips for identifying property in the answers to question 7.)

6. Answer: "b" is partially correct. Make it a habit to visually inspect id badges, a uniform alone is not enough. Sometimes id tags are displayed around the neck - check them out. "a" is up to you to how you react. "c" is always wrong; never leave the repair-person in your office alone, even if it is someone you are familiar with. Always check the identification of a stranger who comes into your office to do repair or other service work. If deemed necessary, call the repair company or ask for a signed work order specifying the location and who authorized the work. Do not allow government property to be removed without a written order or a receipt including the company's name, address, and phone number, plus the name of the authorizing person. Before the equipment actually leaves the premises, verify the repair request with the person who authorized it. Never allow unauthorized repairs to alarm systems or communications equipment. Always check these work requests carefully and verify with the head office and the repair company.

7. Answer: "Both b and c" are correct answers. Prominently mark all office equipment and furniture "GSA Property" or "US Government Property" using a non-removable method. Model number and serial number should be prominently displayed on equipment indicating traceability of the items. Mark personal property as well using initials and/or an identifying number or tag. Markings can be made using engraving pens, non-removable decals, or paint. Check with local suppliers to find specialized labels or decals that are difficult to remove and require scraping. Most thieves will not bother with an item that requires a lot of work before it can be resold. Without identifying marks or labels, government owned equipment and furniture is often identical to commercial items and is easy to sell. Keep an up-to-date written inventory of your office furniture and computers and equipment in a separate secure location. For each item list make and model, serial numbers, a thorough description, and how and where the item was marked. Perform regular inventories of equipment and furniture, especially that which is not used on a daily basis. Ask your FPS office about Operation ID, a program to mark and identify all valuable office equipment and furniture. Your local officials will show you what you can do to cut down on thefts and may even lend you the engraving tool, or point you in the right direction to find what you need. Remember, never store unused equipment on top of cabinets, under tables or in other isolated areas. Lock equipment in a cabinet and make sure all items are identified. Never put office keys to locked cabinets or closets in unlocked drawers or on open hooks. Invest in a lock box for office keys and give the key to a trusted employee. For added security attach larger equipment (computer or printer) to the desk or table with a locking device.

8. Answer: "c" is the best answer. You should also have a backup system for use when a co-worker is on leave or moves to a new job and no one remembers the combinations or passwords. The best way to do this is to write or type the unclassified safe or vault combinations and computer passwords on a piece of paper and put it inside a folder. Label the folder with the employee's name or code and place the folder in a lockable file cabinet. If your safes or vaults contain classified material, or you have classified information on your computer, speak to your local security officer.

9. Answer: "None" of the answers is correct. Never put an identifying tag on a key ring - if you lose your keys it's an open invitation to thieves. Keep your office keys on a separate key ring or on one half of a snap ring, and your personal keys on another key ring, or the other half of the snap key ring. Do not tag your personal keys either - that leads thieves right to your doorstep. Don't leave keys unattended on your desk, under a video screen or in an unlocked drawer, where they can easily be "borrowed" and duplicated. Never put office, car, or house keys in your coat and then leave it hanging on a coat rack or draped over a chair. Keep office and personal keys with you or else lock them up. Only lend your keys to persons who have a legitimate need - make sure they are returned promptly. If you discover your keys are missing, call your security representative; consider having your locks re-keyed and new keys issued if they do not turn up.

10. Answer: "a, b and c" are all correct. As a further crime deterrent, set up a notification system with your protective service and building maintenance offices to provide prompt responses to any potentially dangerous conditions. Use common sense when reporting areas in and around the building that may pose hazards. If the condition warrants immediate attention, use the phone, if it is more of a long term issue, a memo or e-mail message may serve better.


Start an Office Watch Program Today!

You and your co-workers may want to establish an Office Watch Program for your building. This can be set up by office, section, or floor to help alert each other to unauthorized visitors or potential criminal activities. This program can follow the same guidelines as the Neighborhood Watch Program. Contact your FPS office for assistance in setting up such a program.

Here are some simple precautions you can use to prevent burglary, theft, or vandalism, often committed by strangers posing as repair, delivery, cleaning, or other service personnel:

Challenge wandering or "lost" visitors roaming the halls and escort them to the right office, or to the "house phone" to call their intended contact.

Watch out for "head poppers" who open the wrong doors and pretend to be looking for a specific office or person. If they act nervous or head immediately for the nearest exit, remember their description, and call security.

Lock all offices, conference rooms, or storage rooms that are regularly unoccupied.

Be discreet - don't advertise vacation plans or absences by you or your co-workers when there is a stranger present in the office.

When you must work before or after business hours, keep your doors locked. Notify security of your presence and where and what hours you will be working.

If you are the last to leave at night, secure all computer systems, critical files, and copiers.

If you use any electrical appliances, make sure they are turned off and unplugged.

Make sure to close and lock all doors and windows; activate alarm systems if present.

  Source: U.S. General Services Administration

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