Hello, Security? Merry Christmas.

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Ah, the holidays.  Two sure signs of the season around here.  First, I decorate by placing on my desk two cherished (and damaged) Christmas ornaments that somehow found their way to my office.  Second, a beloved firm administrator sends out her annual seasonal reminder on safety issues to all our staff.  With her permission, The Risk Tip is pleased to republish below.  Seasonally-appropriate, risk-conscious greetings to all!   

OFFICE SAFETY

Office thieves take advantage of opportunities and, if you remove the opportunity, you greatly reduce the chances of being victimized.  REMEMBER: Your office or work area is not a bank vault; it is only as safe as you make it!

Properly secure PDAs, cell phones, and laptop computers, i.e., if the office has a lock on the door, secure the door.  If the office does  not have a lock, place the laptop and other peripherals in a locked drawer.

Remove from public view and secure unattended purses, wallets and coats which provide attractive invitations to a would-be thief.

Place personal valuables in the office in a locked cabinet or a drawer when you leave the office.

If you have excess cash in your possession, don’t talk about it because someone could overhear your conversation.

Also, do not leave your credit cards unattended.  Always secure credit cards in a locked drawer or another secure location.

STAY ALERT!  Office thieves are most active at opening, closing and lunch hours, when the maximum traffic flow occurs.

BE WARY of suspicious persons.  “May I help you?” will often be sufficient to deter a potential intruder.  Thieves do not want to be confronted or identified.  Following your own instincts is critical:  If there is ever any doubt or you don’t feel right about an outsider in your office, hallway or restroom, immediately call the appropriate party in your office or building security.

STREET SAFETY

Do not carry an excessive number of credit cards — plan ahead.  Carry credit cards and checks separately from cash; keep the numbers of all credit cards in a safe place should they be lost or stolen.  One quick way to accomplish this is to simply make copies of them.

Shop with friends or family if possible — there is SAFETY in numbers.

Carry your most expensive purchase closest to your body when walking.  Carrying too many packages at one time will make you an easy target.

Have packages delivered to your home if possible.

Be aware of persons who are standing or following too closely.  If this occurs, while you are walking, cross the street immediately.  Find a police officer and inform him/her of your suspicions.  When using public transportation let the driver or conductor know of any suspicious behavior.  In a store or office building, contact the manager.  Remember: A  trained professional is better equipped to handle a potentially dangerous situation.

Park your car in a garage or on a well-lit street.  Always check underneath it, then in the back seat and on the floors before opening the door to make sure no one is hiding and waiting for you.

Lock your purchases in the trunk of your car.  Never leave packages on the back seat or in a visible location.  If you are going to continue to shop, move your vehicle to another parking location after you have placed all packages in the trunk.  Thieves wait and watch for opportunities.

Take well-traveled, well-lit routes.  Don’t use short cuts through alleys or walkways between buildings. 

Leave only your ignition/valet key with a parking lot attendant — never leave your trunk or house keys.  Carry an extra set of keys in case your keys are lost or stolen.

Use caution when using ATM banking machines.  Always consider the time of day and location.  Never write your PIN number on your card or carry it with you.  Choose a PIN number that is NOT your birthday or part of your social security number, in case your wallet or purse is lost or stolen.  Never exit with cash in your hand from the ATM and never count your money on the street or in public view.

Be alert in crowded places.  Pickpockets’ favorite places are revolving doors, crowded stores, elevators, public transportation and bus stops at rush hours.  Thieves often work in pairs — one will bump into you while another picks your pocket or purse.

Use caution when using public restrooms.  Never leave your packages, coat briefcase or purse outside the stall.  If you use a hook or shelf in a stall, make certain someone cannot reach over or under and take your belongings.

Guard your purse.  Do not carry your wallet in your back pocket.  Consider using a “tummy pack” — they are effective in deterring pick pocketing.

HOME SAFETY

Use timers to randomly set-off lights to give your home a lived-in look.

Playing a radio talk show station will give the illusion that someone is home.  This is very inexpensive, but an effective safeguard and should be used anytime when no one is at home.