THE CHANGING CONTEXT OF OPERATIONS

The modern business enterprise has fundamentally changed many traditional checks and balances present in the older system. The dependence on information technology and database systems has brought with it significant changes in internal controls and loss control techniques. Essential business information is concentrated in fewer hands, and the potential risk of major losses has been significantly increased. Data manipulators have a greater capability to steal from a company on a grand scale without ever carrying an ounce of contraband past a perimeter security control point. This loss of the ability to deal with such matters on a human scale makes it imperative for the security department to recognize its dependence upon the other elements within the organization and to adapt itself accordingly.

Exclusive reliance on electronic surveillance and control systems may create more security problems than it resolves. Some employees may even sabotage such electronic systems in protest. For example, a few drops of epoxy on a stick can disable most card access control systems with insert or aperture type readers. Quite often these actions by an employee are not motivated by hostility to the company or an attempt to steal. At one time or another we have all witnessed (or perhaps engaged in) an animated monologue by an individual to a vending machine which just swallowed some coins without delivering a product. Verbal abuse often shifts to physical attack, and there are numerous vending machines that bear the marks of angry blows delivered by dissatisfied customers. A fundamental change is needed in how the assets protection organization is perceived by

A major obstacle to overcome is the reluctance of management to evaluate the assets protection organization in other than statistical terms losses reported, cases solved, etc. A year is considered good when reported losses are lower than the prior year, although that may be the least important criterion in evaluating the assets protection program. There may not even be a mandated loss reporting system covering inventory shortages or other forms of mysterious disappearances. Most important, the statistics collected may not address a dishonesty environment developing in the workplace. Altering production numbers to “make the boss look good” is only a short step away from altering other records to cause valuable materials first to disappear on paper and then to disappear physically as well.

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