One of the unfortunate aspects of work as an asset manager is confronting the fact that theft happens. Rather than pretending that it won’t, and embracing that it can, makes up for half the battle in preventing theft of agency equipment. The other half should be based on the performance of the tools you have to do the job. Accountability does not have to be impossible.
Common Theft Scenarios
Some more common scenarios involve the following:
- Distributor personnel steal from re-order quantities; claiming shortages.
- Non-sworn personnel steal items from points of access, such as vehicles, open access areas in offices, equipment standing by at crime scenes, etc.
- Civilians with an unusual opportunity to our areas of operation.
- Municipal staff that has some form of oversight, direct or in-direct, over our assets.
- Sworn personnel who believe they’ve found a “hole” in our system
No matter how we feel about our co-workers, or those we interact with on a day-to-day basis, they are the ones that present the highest probability of stealing our agency’s equipment. It used to be that unrestricted access was our biggest problem. But with the incorporation of cameras, multiple layers of access restrictions (secured doors, unique user codes, etc.), we’ve removed much of these opportunities. What’s left is a cascading assortment of mere windows of opportunity, most of which are not appealing. However, we must remain vigilant against these thefts just the same.
There are some things we can do to reduce the remaining exposure even more greatly. Aside from layers of access control, there is also some pre-emptive planning. For example, when considering scenarios two through five, one of the larger “holes” available, is when equipment is assigned to a squad, division, or other communal-type setting. It stands to reason that this equipment will be shared between personnel, and having access to it among all members is critical. However, that’s not to say that you can’t have documentation ahead of time showing who is ultimately responsible for that equipment, how should assignment be handled, and what levels of control does the responsible party have in place to assure open-air access to the equipment is reduced. Is the equipment locked away in a storage closet? Is it assigned to staff based upon an on-call roster? How are transfers between parties documented? Who has access to the secure area that the equipment will be housed in? How often is the supervisor inspecting the equipment? If you empower your asset manager to collect this information in a report with signature blocks for all responsible parties, it makes it very clear how your personnel should be maintaining the equipment in question, and this eliminates virtually any type of loss that could occur, outside of damage.
But to push this idea even further, prescribing rules of handling is another measure that can eliminate opportunity theft by civilians and people unrelated to our agency. Training personnel on handling of equipment is typical for agencies when trying to impact the likelihood of damage. So, should it be when keeping equipment secure, even that equipment that would have no foreseeable value to the general public. Not only do we need to protect our agency at all times, but it’s reputation. There’s nothing worse than going back to the office and telling your supervisors that in the midst of a scene search, an unknown person by unknown means snagged a surveying device.
Use of Technology
Not only should your software be able to explain who has been assigned equipment, but it should also be able to alert the individual with the equipment of periodic inspections that are required, verifications that they still have the equipment, and requirements to photograph, or provide other positive reinforcement that the equipment assigned is in working order, and secure. Of course, if you don’t want this level of detail, that is a decision to make as an agency. But your software should be capable of creating self-paced events for personnel and the equipment in their possession, so that your asset manager is not chasing people all over the office, or even to their houses, to ensure the equipment is accounted for, and your agency is in compliance. Making use of technology’s best features can greatly assist in your never-ending mission of equipment accountability. The faster you can develop response-based protocols, the faster you can ensure your equipment is in great condition, and your agency is fulfilling it’s promise to be accountable.
The use of software, coupled with person-based methods ensures that the remaining scenarios of theft don’t occur, and when they do occur, are much quicker to be exposed. This is a positive outcome for your agency all the way around.
Be safe out there!