An employee of a company had her handbag (containing company and personal valuables) stolen by an unidentified man during an off-site film-showing event inside a cinema in one of SM’s Southern Tagalog branches. The employee (as well as other colleagues) actually noticed the man leaning against a side wall near her chair but assumed that he was a member of the cinema staff. When she stood up to join colleagues standing behind their chairs to the rear, she left behind her bag trusting that the exclusive event kept out any unauthorized persons. As the movie ended and she came back to pick up her bag, it was gone. Checks with on-site security revealed that the lady guard on duty had indeed let out a man in t-shirt, shorts, and slippers carrying a lady’s bag and who acted to be somebody’s driver. However, cinema and mall security failed to act quickly in running after the suspect to recover the stolen item after the employee alerted the guard. Mall security only involved law enforcement after about an hour and only after its CCTV recording proved unable to identify the suspect who also wore a cap and due to the cameras’ lack of infrared capability. Mall cameras may be able to track the suspect around the mall premises but a formal complaint needed to be filed as basis for further and more resolute actions by both the mall and law enforcement. The employee already reported the incident to her company and to the financial institutions that owned her stolen cards. She wondered whether to file a case or not.
It is said that the presence of these three elements can most definitely lead to theft: Opportunity for theft to occur; Motive to steal; and, Means to consummate the act at low-risk. Apparently, the battle against theft is better won proactively than reactively. Either way, an awareness of the following should help:
- Always look after your belongings.
- Do not be complacent.
- Be observant.
- Challenge unauthorized or suspicious persons, or report them to security.
- Keep valuables away from public view.
- Do not get distracted.
- Do not overly rely on security. Off-site security personnel, especially, are not familiar with all colleagues.
- For major off-site events, it may be advisable to consult in-house security which can double-check off-site security preparations against the company’s standards.
- Reaction time is important. Assist security or law enforcement towards acting quickly following a theft incident.
- Immediately file a report at the nearest police blotter.
- Quickly report the theft to partner financial companies.
- Inform your company.
- If warranted, file a formal complaint at the nearest police station. The complaint empowers the police to conduct a formal investigation and access evidence from witnesses, CCTV recordings, and on-scene items.
- Cooperate with law enforcement.
- Keep a copy of the police report.
- Follow up with law enforcement.