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Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Boom Box Bust

I got this message in my work e-mail on 12/19/2006:
Please remind your respective staff members as appropriate that personal items and belongings and/or items of a valuable or sentimental nature should be properly secured if they choose to bring them into the workplace or simply left a home. Unlike many of our previous office locations, we have an open floor plan setting at this location with several of our programs merged onto one floor. Our swipe card system simply limits the number of people who have access to our area but does not limit access once inside the secured zone.
Please let me know if you have any questions.

In the last couple weeks, one of the folks in my section had an iPod stolen from his desk. And not just the device itself, but the base, that was plugged in under his desk. The powers that be on our floor were notified, and they sent out this message on 2/6/2007:

Please remind your respective staff members as appropriate that personal items and belongings and/or items of a valuable or sentimental nature...

Yes, the very same message, including the phrase "simply left a home", rather than the intended "simply left at home". This means that the thieves work on the floor and/or are from the cleaning crew. In any case, I thought the response was inadequate, and told the powers that be of that fact.

In part at my urging, the victim of the iPod theft had called the Town of Colonie Police. What was striking is that the officer said that the department hadn't gotten any complaints from our building before the iPod, which of course was a bit discouraging to the victim.

I recommended to the powers that be that they should encourage people to report the thefts. And I told them why, which leads to a story also recollected as a result of my recent jury duty.

It was March 14, 2001. (Why do I remember the date? It was a week after my birthday.) I was supposed to meet Carol somewhere, so I left my office on State Street in downtown Albany at 5 pm. Carol and I must have gotten our wires crossed, because she wasn't where I expected her. I returned to my office to call her at 5:30, when I discovered the boom box that had been on my desk had disappeared. Initially, I thought one of my co-workers who were there - there were at least two - might have borrowed it. Alas, that was not the case. Immediately, I called the police and reported the theft. I had no illusions of getting my box back, but it seemed like the right thing to do.

What surprised me is that a few months later, they caught a guy who had stolen a number of pieces of personal property from offices all up and down State Street and adjoining streets. Eventually, I had to testify in front of a grand jury - that was surprisingly intimidating - that the boom box pawned by the accused was not given to him by me.

The real surprise, though, was when I received a check for about $70 from some victims' compensation fund; the particulars I'm not clear on, but the fact that I got back about 88% of what I had paid for the machine was a really pleasant, unexpected outcome.

So, I'm waiting, waiting, waiting for the powers that be to actually follow through on his pledge to encourage police reports to be filed. But holding my breath, I'm not. And in case, you're wondering why I don't just tell people myself, I have, informally, but a mass distribution from the powers that be would be much more effective.

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