Sunday, July 1, 2012

When Risk Becomes Real

Within the security world, too often crime is nothing more than a statistic, a number.  But behind each number or report there is a victim facing very real losses with very real consequences.
I was reminded recently of what that means, unfortunately, and not for the first time.  It started at 6:30 am on a Saturday morning.  The doorbell rang and my dog starting barking.  I stumbled half-awake to the door and saw a couple of my neighbors from down the street.  They asked if I owned a black Saturn and said that someone had hit it.
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When I went outside, there was a Chevy Blazer parked where my car had been.  The driver was sitting behind the wheel crying.  I asked where my car was and my wife pointed down the street – into the next block.  There was my car sitting in a neighbor’s front lawn.

While waiting for the police to respond, I started to talk to the other driver.  He was really upset because he was driving his mom’s car – only because he had totaled his car when he hit another parked car the morning before a couple of blocks away.  He said that he had started a new job and was tired.  I assumed he was working nights and was surprised to find out that he worked days, which prompted the question of why he was going home at 6:30 am. 
The police arrived and immediately recognized him from the previous accident.  While they began their investigation, I called my insurance company.  Soon there were several more police officers on scene and I saw them going through roadsides with the driver and ultimately arrested him.  He had signs of using meth and admitted to it as well. 
My car would not start and looked like it was going to be totaled.  I tried to get suggestions from the insurance company on what to do with my car.  To make matters worse, we were getting ready to head out of town for almost three weeks.  What a stressful way to start out on vacation.
Accidents like this are an everyday occurrence.  No one was injured and was only a property damage accident.  Even so, it is a real loss and a real headache.  It meant trying to deal with two insurance companies and impound lots while out of town with limited email and cell phone access.  It also meant dealing with replacing my car.  I did not expect a car payment for another couple of years and it was not in the plan or budget.
There is a lesson to all security professionals dealing with crime risks – each statistic has a victim, a person behind the number.  Don’t overlook the human factor when planning and assessing risk and the impact on others.  Even on issues that are seemingly trivial or routine – because they are not to those affected directly.
PS – there is a silver lining.  I now have a new car parked in our driveway (not in the street!), one with better gas mileage and a bit more exciting than a 12-year old Saturn (RIP).

Eric Smith, CPP is the leading authority on organizational self-defense.  He has extensive experience in law enforcement as well as security management.  Eric is available for staff education and security awareness training as well as business coaching to help organizations provide safe workplaces.  To learn more visit http://www.businesskarate.com



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