As many of you know, I have been with the University since 1983. I started here with only 15 members in our department and virtually no electronic security systems. Today, I am happy to be among over a hundred members of the Public Safety & Parking team, some of the greatest people I have ever worked with. Our security systems have expanded into some of the most sophisticated in the industry. We now manage some 500 online card readers, over 600 video surveillance cameras, and nearly 3,000 standalone battery powered locks that operate with your ID badges. These standalone locks are featured on all doors in the Lois Pope Life Center, the Batchelor Children Center, the Clinical Research and the Biomedical Research buildings. I am truly thankful to have been a part of it all.
Over the years and still today, one of our greatest challenges is the theft of wallets, purses, and equipment from unlocked and/or unattended offices, laboratories, desks, and storage areas. It is with this in mind that I appeal to our community for help.
As many of you have learned the hard way, a theft can occur when you are least expecting it. Individuals involved in theft from offices are sometimes dressed neatly or professionally and often conform to the surroundings. It is easy for someone to put on a lab coat, pick up a manila folder and stroll into your area. These individuals are bold and confident. Such individuals have been observed in unattended offices searching through desk drawers. If approached, these individuals will pretend that someone else is helping them, to be using your phone, looking for a job, or simply decline any help that you may offer. In one case, an individual walked into a waiting room and instructed a patient to go to the dressing area and change into a gown. The individual left with the patient’s handbag while the patient was changing. Several employees have been victimized after leaving their area unattended for only a few minutes while going to the copy center or even to the restroom. Please be alert and do not fall victim to scams; these individuals are true professionals in their business
Most of these thefts are preventable by placing valuables in a secure area. Lock your personal belongings and portable property like laptop computers and cameras inside a desk or filing cabinet. Do not hide the key or place it in another desk nearby. Never leave desks, storage cabinets, and offices unlocked when you are away. It only takes seconds for a theft to occur. Secure computers and fax machines to desks or counter tops by using an Anchor Pad.
For any public safety program to be effective, all employees must participate. Be alert and report unusual or suspicious activity! Don’t allow people to roam around unattended! Ask if you can help. If they decline or act nervous, notify public safety at 243-6000. Report thefts immediately, don’t delay. And remember, it doesn’t necessarily have to be a stranger who takes your belongings. It could be someone you work with, a legitimate visitor, or delivery person. Don’t announce to everyone in your work area that you are going to the bank to get money or to cash your payroll check. Do not carry large amounts of cash. If you do, carry it separate from your daily spending money and do not leave it in your purse or briefcase.
Today we must also face the bombardment of electronic scams that cross our computers each day trying to sell us something or con us out of our personal information. The bottom line, if you don’t know the person it is coming from don’t open it and certainly don’t click on any links provided in the electronic files. Another good but simple test is if it sounds too good to be true, then it probably is. In many cases, these electronic documents feature logos from our creditors and banks and look very legitimate. But in all most all cases they are not. Simply do not open or reply to unsolicited electronic material.
If we work together, we can prevent many of our losses. Please feel free to contact us at any time. Our staff and I look forward to serving you for many years to come.