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On this page you will find a number of questions that have been asked by companies and individuals.  We have tried to provide practical answers to those questions. These are suggestions based on our experience.

Our company accepts no liability for the content of this information or for the consequences of any actions taken on the basis of the information provided, unless that information is subsequently confirmed in writing.  We are providing general information.  If there is a question if your actions could have legal consequences for your actions, please seek legal advice.

We hope the answers to these questions will be of value to you.  You are invited to ask the writer questions on any security matter.  If your question and the subsequent answer would be of value to others, they will be posted below.
Send your security questions to dave@daverodwell.com


Questions:

  1. I read somewhere that a retailer should price merchandise to prevent internal theft. Can you explain this for me? 

  2. There has been lots of thefts from vehicles in our neighborhood.  Can you offer any suggestions?

  3. We have a garage in our backyard that gets lots of graffiti on it.  How do you stop this?

  4. What is the best type of fencing for our Industrial site? 

  5. How do you prevent being taken by unscrupulous mechanics?

  6. Can I video and record conversations in our Customer service area?

  7. We have had some thefts from our storage yard at the marina.  Boats on their trailers have been stolen.  How do you prevent this?

  8. What would you suggest for my store front to prevent smash and grab?

  9. What security measures can be taken to enhance farm security?

  10. What can you fire an employee for that is considered "just cause"? 

  11. How do you prevent thefts from large construction sites? 

  12. Someone is poisoning dogs in our neighborhood.  How do I protect my two dogs? 

  13. I suspect that an employee is stealing.  How do I catch them?

  14. We have had a number of thefts from vehicles parked in our apartment underground parking.  How do we stop it?

  15. I run a restaurant and food appears to be disappearing from storage.  Do you have any suggestions to prevent theft?

  16. I have a friend that picks up hitchhikers.  How dangerous is this?

  17. What is the best way to secure my bike when I am out and about?

  18. I get uncomfortable when in elevators with strangers.  What can I do?

  19. We have tenants that simply let anyone into our building.  How do you stop this? 

  20. We are planning a holiday and have a concern about some of the locations on the list.   Where can we go to find out if we are heading to crime free locations?

  21. I am a woman living alone?  What suggestions do you have for me?

  22. Are alarm systems worth the money?

  23. I would like to buy from websites like Kijiji, but I am worried about meeting a stranger with cash to exchange the item.  Any suggestions? 

  24. What do I need to do to be compliant with working alone policy? 

  25. What is the safest way to make bank deposits?  

  26. How often should a person change their passwords?

  27. We have a lot of teenagers loitering in our store.  How do I get rid of them?

  28. What type of background checks should a company be making on future employees?

  29. I work night shifts at a store and when I get off duty, I have to go to a very dark part of our parking lot.  I am very nervous.  How should I handle this concern?

  30. I am concerned that contracted cleaners may be pilfering our merchandise during their night shift.  They are the only people in the building.  How to you stop this?

  31. Can we ban people from coming on our property and how do we go about doing that? 

  32. I have been receiving obscene phone calls. What do I do to put a stop to this?

  33. As a retailer, what kind of information from a customer should I collect?

  34. Can I secretly record employee’s conversations in the coffee room?  I have a large internal theft issue in my business and I am trying to find out who is responsible.

  35. Where do you go to find babysitters that it is safe to leave your children with?

  36. I have on occasion come across a stranded vehicle on a highway.  I usually just drive by, but then feel that I should have stopped.   How can you be safe in these situations?

  37. I have watch the terrorist attacks on public places and wonder what I would do if I was there  Any advice on what an individual should  do if you find yourself in one of these attacks?

  38. I am a woman that feels really nervous when I have to park in underground or high rise parking lots.  They are usually dark and lonely spots.  Any suggestions?

  39. My mother lives in a nursing home and often has items disappearing from her room.  What can we do to stop this?

  40. I met a man a few months back and broke off the relationship.  I keep running into him and believe that he is stalking me.  What should I do?

  41. If I am in my car and believe that I am being followed.   What should I do?

  42. I have children that go to school and come home before I get home from work.  They need to get into the house, where is the best place to hid a key for them? 

1.  Pricing Merchandise
Q.  I read somewhere that a retailer should price merchandise to prevent internal theft. Can you explain this for me?    Red Deer Retailer

A.  A store owner should price his merchandise so the clerk has to make change for the customer. When you price to the even dollar, the customer hands over the $5, $10 dollar bill, and then turn his back to walk out of the store.  At this time, the clerk can put the money into his pocket and not the cash register.  You want your clerks to be forced to make change.  The clerk will need to have to punch in a sales amount before the cash register will open to make change.    
 
2.  Theft from Vehicles
Q.  There has been lots of thefts from vehicles in our neighborhood.  Can you offer any suggestions?    Homeowner, S. Edmonton

A. The first thing to do is insure there are no valuables within sight in the vehicle.  Try to park under a light if possible.  If you park on your driveway, have garage lights on motion sensors to deter thieves, as they like the cover of darkness.  If your vehicle is alarm able, then use it.  We often fill our garage with junk, and leave our valuable car and its contents outside.  What’s wrong with this picture?

3. Graffiti
Q. We have a garage in our backyard that gets lots of graffiti on it.  How do you stop this?    Frustrated home owner, St. Albert, AB

A.  These budding artists can be a real pain.  First, don’t leave the graffiti on the wall! Leaving it simply attracts more graffiti.  If you have room, plant some thorny plants that they have to go through to get to the wall.  I.e. climbing rose bushes, thorny olive bushes come first to mind.  Many municipalities have bylaws in place requiring property owners to remove any graffiti on their property.

4. Industrial fencing
Q. What is the best type of fencing for our Industrial site?   Acheson manufacturer

A.  There are a number of factors that go into selecting a fencing type.  What are you trying to protect will dictate some of the answers. If you have product outside of a building, the fence has to be high enough that items cannot be easily thrown over it.  A chain on top versus a brick wall with pointed wrought iron on top.  What look are you going for?  If you are trying to simply stop vehicles driving off the property, a very solid fence or strategically placed trees may solve the problem.   Your budget will factor in the decision.
  
5.  Fraudulent vehicle repair
Q. How do you prevent being taken by unscrupulous mechanics?   Tony, Edm, AB

A.  Before you use a new garage, check with the Better Business Bureau for previous complaints.  Unhappy customers often will post their remarks on the internet.  Look of a trend, rather than simply going by one unhappy customer.  Ask your friends and co- workers who they would recommend.

If it is a major expense, you may want to get a second opinion and a cost estimate.   These days most garages or mechanic shops charge a fee just check a vehicle that needs repairs which is not refundable. Do you homework.

Return to Question List

6. Video and recording in public areas
Q. Can I video and record conversations in our Customer service area?   St. Albert retailer

A.  You can put up cameras to record activity in your customer service area.  There should be signage to indicate the area is under surveillance.  This will aid in reducing workplace violence that can come from upset customers.  I would not record the conversations, unless you felt the conversation is leading to a criminal action.  Recording conversation can be a logistical nightmare of obtaining necessary employee consents and safe guarding the digital evidence.

7. Marina theft
Q. We have had some thefts from our storage yard at the marina.  Boats on their trailers have been stolen.  How do you prevent this?  Boat owner, Penticton, BC

A.  The first area to address is the security the compound itself.  Is the adequate fencing; what controls are on the gate to restrict access?  If you have a key system; what key control is in place?  Does everyone have a key including individuals no longer connected to the marina?  Depending on the number of clients, it may be time for card access system.   A camera system to cover the property may be considered.  Make the compound a difficult place for thieves to enter and if they do make sure thieves will be aware they are on being recorded on camera.
This stealing could come from individuals connected to the marina therefore each individual needs to take steps to prevent theft from their personal boats. Valuable articles should not be left in the boats.  Boat covers should be used and secured with locks.  The boats and their trailers need to be secured to immoveable objects by a high strength chain and use of titanium locks.
Additionally, all members of your marina have to create a sense of community to be vigilant for strangers and suspicious activity.

8. Preventing Smash and Grab
Q. What would you suggest for my store front to prevent smash and grab? Edmonton retailer

A. There are a number of factors to take into consideration.  There may be restrictions by the property owner as they may want to maintain a certain overall look to the property.  The glass can be replaced with plexi-glass or security film put over the glass.  Depending on your location, you could put decorative but protection bars.  Extra lighting and a camera inside the store to record customer entry will be a deterrent.  Installation of signage highlighting the cameras and alarm system will go a long way in theft prevention.   To prevent thieves from driving into the building, strategically placed concrete barriers. They don’t need to be ugly concrete, but concrete planters or cement benches.

9. Farm security
Q. What security measures can be taken to enhance farm security? Farm owner, Mayerthorp,  AB

A.  Providing security on a farm can be difficult due to large area to cover and isolation from much traffic.  Fortunately camera systems have come a long way in the last few years.  Remote wireless cameras can be installed easily around the farm yard.  Install lots of signage notifying people of the cameras.   Make sure you are a part of “farm watch”, where neighbors help look after each other, especially when away on holidays.  Big dogs are always a deterrent.

Be aware of strangers wanting to come into your house on the pretext of using the washroom.  They could be criminals casing the place looking for items that can be stolen at a later date.

Criminals that need firearms know the easiest place to locate one is on a farm.  Most farmers have several on hand.  Please note all guns and ammunition must be stored in accordance with current laws surrounding the ownership of them.

10. “Just Cause” Firing employees
Q.  What can you fire an employee for that is considered "just cause"?  Nursing Home provider, Grande Prairie, AB

A.  An employer can fire an employee for the following reasons:

  • Theft;
  • Fraud and dishonesty;
  • Assault or harassment of co-workers;
  • Breach of duty;
  • Serious willful misconduct;
  • Conflict of interest, especially if it involves provable loss to the employer;
  • Serious breach of company rules or practices;
  • Serious undermining of the corporate culture;
  • Chronic absenteeism or tardiness;
  • Unsatisfactory performance.

The employer should have documented proof and be able to justify their decision to fire.  A documented serious of shortcomings should be in place and for items like absenteeism, tardiness and unsatisfactory performance, there should be written warnings.  Serious infractions which involve things like theft, fraud, dishonesty, conflict of interest or willful misconduct may require only one provable incident to justify dismissal without written notice or compensation for length of service.

Return to Question List

11. Construction site thefts
Q.  How do you prevent thefts from large construction sites?  Construction Company, Calgary, AB

A.   Construction site theft is a major issue in most communities.  It is preferable to have the entire complex fenced with temporary fencing during construction phase.  There should only be one gate to access the property. If there is a multitude of different companies coming onto the site and lots of traffic consider having a security guard to monitor what is leaving the site.   Workers should park outside the fencing.  No vehicles should be inside the compound unless it is making a delivery or the truck is needed to do work.  An example is a welding truck.  By allowing trucks onto the property, you are providing the means to hide and transport stolen property from the compound. 

Make sure all your equipment and tools is marked by engraving or distinctive paint color, so it stands out in the hands of a non-employee.  It certainly helps any guards hired to secure the property.  Lockable metal C-cans should be used to store valuable tools and property.  Try to schedule deliver items to the time when they are going to be installed.  For example if you are installing 50 toilets into an apartment complex, they don’t need to be sitting on site, until the building is at the phase where plumbing fixtures are to be installed.

Note:  Employees steal from each other.  They should keep their tools within eyesight and take them home each evening.

12.  Dog poisoning
 Q.  Someone is poisoning dogs in our neighborhood.  How do I protect my two dogs?    Dog owner, St. Albert, AB

A. This type of action is usually done during the cover of night and a very difficult crime to solve. Depending on your yard layout, I would suggest that you improve the lighting in your back yard using motion sensors tied into the lighting.  Check your yard first thing every morning looking for poisoned meat before you let your dogs out.  Birds or flies can provide a good indication of where to look.  Dogs can be trained to only eat what is placed in their food bowl.  Be watchful for suspicious people.   

13. Stopping internal theft
Q.  I suspect that an employee is stealing.  How do I catch them?   Hardware store owner, Edmonton, AB

A.  This is a very open question to answer.  Without details, I can only answer with general comments.   Depending on the layout of the business, you could consider the use of covert cameras to catch the employee in the act.  Make sure that you have a clear Code of Conduct and expectations’ of employees.  Policies around what can leave the property must be spelled out to avoid the excuse of “I was only borrowing it”, or “I was taking it home to practice on it”. 
 
A lot of internal thefts happen around the garbage.  Employees will secrete an article in a garbage bag and then take it out to the dumpster.   At quitting time they leave the building empty handed, to return an hour or so after closing and take the article out of the garbage bin.   Consider using clear bags for garbage, having locked bins and requiring two employees take the garbage to the bin. 

14.  Underground Parking – Theft from vehicles
Q. We have had a number of thefts from vehicles parked in our apartment underground parking.  How do we stop it?   Upset vehicle owner, Regina, Sask.

A.  The first item to do is to control access to the area.  If it is controlled by key, consider all the tenants who have keys.  Are there outstanding keys in the hands of past tenants?   Are all residents being vigilant to see if anyone is tailgating them into the garage before the door closes?  Are residents leaving valuable items within sight in their vehicles?  Though a vehicle is in a locked area, the vehicle needs to be locked as well.

Consideration can be given to installing a camera system to record the activities in the area and installation of signage indicating the area under surveillance.  Try to eliminate any locations where an individual could hide.

15. Restaurant internal theft
Q. I run a restaurant and food appears to be disappearing from storage.  Do you have any suggestions to prevent theft?  Restaurant owner, Kelowna, BC

A.   The most common way that theft occurs from a restaurant is through the garbage.  During their shift, employees will secrete a box of food or bottle of liquor into the garbage bin at the back of the restaurant.  After work hours, they will come back and retrieve the items from the garbage.  Restaurant owners need to switch to clear garbage bags.  Clear bags make it difficult to hide stolen items.  This will also help show if a cook or chef is burning or wasting food.   Have a place inside the restaurant to put the garbage bags and then have two employees take out the garbage.  One of the two could be a trusted employee.   Also consider putting a lock on the bin, so it can’t be opened after hours.

Be sure your loss is not from receiving errors.   This is when you are getting less product then you are paying for from your supplier.

Return to Question List

16. Hitchhikers
Q. I have a friend that picks up hitchhikers.  How dangerous is this? Concerned friend, Leduc, AB

A.  The practice of picking up hitchhikers is very dangerous.   He is allowing an individual into his space that he knows nothing about.  As the driver your friend is occupied with the driving of his vehicle, and will have no control of his personal safety.  A hitchhiker could use a knife or gun to rob and/or assault your friend and at worse he could lose his life.

17.  Bike Security
Q. What is the best way to secure my bike when I am out and about?  Biking Enthusiast,  Calgary, AB

A.   Purchase a high strength wire bike lock.  When you park your bike, remove the front wheel.  If this is a frequent action, you can get a lever for the front wheel that can make wheel removal easy.   Put the lock through the rear, front wheel and bike frame and around a fixed object.   Make sure the fixed object cannot be simply ripped out of the ground or you defeat the whole purpose.

18. Elevators and security
Q. I get uncomfortable when in elevators with strangers.  What can I do? Nervous Nellie, Edmonton, AB

A.  First thing is not get on the elevator if the situation feels uncomfortable.  Wait for next elevator.  When on an elevator, if possible, stand by the buttons.  If you are attacked you can hit the emergency button if you are standing beside it.  By having your back to the wall, you can’t be grabbed from behind, which is the most vulnerable position you can be in.  There is safety in numbers.

19. Apartment building security
Q. We have tenants that simply let anyone into our building.  How do you stop this?    Apartment tenant, Edmonton, AB

A.  All tenants have to be aware of the danger of simply letting someone in the building when the buzzer is ringing in their building.  When I worked as a police detective, I learned that if I wanted to arrest someone it was simple to push all the buttons and usually someone would let you in without confirming your identity.  This allowed me to get to the suspect’s door, so he couldn’t escape if I rang the buzzer.  The apartment building is your community.  Members of that community must look out for each other.

20. Traveling to Foreign countries
Q.  We are planning a holiday and have a concern about some of the locations on the list.   Where can we go to find out if we are heading to crime free locations?  Anxious traveler, AB

A.   The best locations that I can recommend are the government websites of both Canada and the United States.  The C.I.A. also has an extensive website with valuable information.  Some local police departments also offer information on areas that tourists should avoid. There are definitely some areas in the world that are dangerous to visit and I would not visit.  Certainly any war-torn area should be avoided.

 Keep in mind that danger lurks in every city in the world including here in Canada.   Do your do diligence and plan out your holiday with safety and security as part of the decision.  If already at a location, don’t hesitate to ask at your hotel if an area you plan to visit is safe to do so.  Locals know the high crime areas and which areas should be avoided.

Return to Question List

21. Female living alone
 Q. I am a woman living alone.  What suggestions do you have for me? Independent woman, Calgary, AB

A.  Most importantly do not give out any information that could indicate you are female and living alone.  Use your initials on any public document that refers to your residence.  Phone directories, listing etc should just have last name and initials.

If someone comes to your door to sell you something, don’t indicate you live alone.  If they ask about your spouse, indicate he should be home soon.  Never allow a stranger into your home.   Better yet do not open the door to someone you do not know.  One can never be too careful.

One lady I know of purchased a large pair of used work boots, muddied them up and leaves them year round on her door step.  You get the picture, do not give criminals the impression you live alone. 

Put a male voice on your answering machine.  Dads will always do this for their daughters and sons will do is for their single mothers etc.

22. Alarm systems
Q. Are alarm systems worth the money? Home owner, Sherwood Park, AB

A. Most certainly they are if they prevent an attack on you or your property.  It is very difficult to put a monetary value on the prevention item.  If your system scares off one thief who could have stolen thousands of dollars of items or done damage to the property, that would pay for quite a few years’ of monitoring costs.   With any system, it is important to have a lot of signage indicating you are alarmed.  Alarm systems go a long way in keeping property owners safe from predators.

23. Buying from websites
Q. I would like to buy from websites like Kijiji, but I am worried about meeting a stranger with cash to exchange the item.  Any suggestions?  Online shopper, Whitecourt, AB

A.  When you make a purchase using a website, the issue of delivery and exchange of money causes security concerns.   Criminals have set up situations, whereby they have a fictitious item for sale.  The victim purchases the item online, and an agreed location to make the exchange is made.  When the purchaser shows up with their cash.  They are simply robbed at gun or knife point.   To prevent this make sure you meet in a very public location, preferably take someone with you.  Don’t take cash, but a money order or certified cheque, if they will not accept credit card or PayPal payments.   Make sure that whatever you purchase is in working order and as described.  If it seems suspicious try to calmly back out of the meeting.

24. Working Alone
Q. What do I need to do to be compliant with working alone policy?  Gasbar employer, West Edmonton, AB

A.  Most provinces in Canada and states in the United States have some form of legislation with respect to people that work alone.  This legislation is usually enacted because of violence or safety infractions that have occurred to workers that work alone.  It is designed to force employers to look out for the welfare of their employees.

In Alberta, an employee is deemed to be “working alone” if on duty and not in verbal communication with another employee.  Telephones do not count.  Cab drivers, gas bar attendants, realtors fall into this category, and some restaurant workers.   There are others in other businesses as well.

The employer has to look at each position in their organization where employees work and determine what negative event could happen to them because they work alone.  They next have to take reasonable steps to mitigate anything that could negatively affect the employee.  Depending on the business, you could be installing alarm systems, improving communications and most often training the employees to prevent the negative actions happening.  

This process has to be documented in case an inspector shows up to see if you are compliant.  This should also be done for insurance purposes for the company.

25. Bank Deposits
Q.  What is the safest way to make bank deposits?      Insurance agency employer, Sherwood Park, AB

A.  Bank deposits should be made, if possible, at different times of the day, by different routes to the bank, if possible different employees with different types of bags.  One day you use a briefcase, the next day paper bag etc.  You get the idea.   Don’t establish any pattern to the deposits.  This prevents you from being robbed in route.  Especially after banking hours, make sure there are no suspicious individuals hanging outside the bank.  If there just drive by and notify the police.

Return to Question List

26.  Passwords
Q.  How often should a person change their passwords?    Small business owner, West Edmonton, AB

A.  There is no set time frame to change passwords unless you believe that they have been compromised.   You may want to change passwords more frequently that control access to your computer or banking records, but it is more important to have a strong password, then frequent changing.

It should be noted to have employees change their passwords every few months, tends to lead to individuals picking simple passwords that are easy to remember and having to write them down beside the computer.  This defeats the purpose of passwords.

27. Loitering
Q. We have a lot of teenagers loitering in our store.  How do I get rid of them?  Convenience store manager, Northwest Edmonton, AB

A.  As a store owner, you can ask them not to loiter inside the store and then take action if they don’t leave.  Some people think that the inside of a store is public property.  It is not, so you need to educate them to the fact.

You can also limit the number of shoppers in your store.  This greatly reduces shoplifting. Most young people do not like classical music, so play it over the sound system.  It works better than mosquito repellent. 

There is a product called “The Mosquito” that omits a sound that is noticeable for youth under the age of 20.  Older people can’t hear it.   It is an irritant to teenagers, so they usually leave the area.  This item is controversial as some people feel it goes against the teenager’s rights, but others believe it is no different than any other deterrent used to stop unwanted people becoming a nuisance to property owners.

28. Background checks
Q.  What type of background checks should a company be making on future employees?  Small business employer, Red Deer, AB

A.   When I work with H.R. departments, we will often set different levels of security checks depending up their position in the company.   If an employee is handling large amounts money, we may conduct some financial background checks.   If they are working with children or a vulnerable population, you must incorporate criminal record checks.   In my experience, when we have caught an employee committing theft or fraud against the business, we find that usually poor background checks had been completed.   Visit at least two of their previous employers.   It is amazing what they will candidly advise you of that they would not over a phone call. There are also companies around now that will not disclose any information good or bad on previous employees.  That can make is tough both for the future employer and the past employee.  Times are changing.

29. Dark parking lots
Q. I work night shifts at a store and when I get off duty, I have to go to a very dark part of our parking lot.  I am very nervous.  How should I handle this concern? Retail worker, SW Calgary, AB

A.  Consider asking your management if they could have better lighting installed in the area.  The lights could be put onto a timer.  When you are leaving the building the light is turned on and 5 to 15 minutes later it will automatically turn off.   If possible go out to your vehicle in numbers or if a security guard is present ask for an escort to your vehicle.

Always have your key in your hand and check the back seat area of your car before getting in. Be aware of people loitering in the area.

30. Contractors stealing
Q. I am concerned that contracted cleaners may be pilfering our merchandise during their night shift.  They are the only people in the building.  How to you stop this?  Retail store owner, Ft. McMurray, AB

A.  You can utilize cameras to monitor their activity.   Depending on their hours you can have a security patrol, open the door and lock them inside for their shift.  This prevents them taking items, walking out to their vehicle, securing the article and then re-entering the building to finish off their shift.   At the end of their shift, the security guard will let them out making sure no stolen items are going out with them.   If anyone exits the building an alarm rings and they have to explain why the doors were opened.

You can conduct random checks of them as they leave the property at end of shift.  This does not prevent them secreting the property during the night or having an accomplice help take the property away during the night.  

Return to Question List

31.  Banning people from property
Q. Can we ban people from coming on our property and how do we go about doing that?  Property owner, Canmore, AB

A.  If the property is your home yard or farm, you can prevent anyone from coming onto your property without a warrant.  You can forewarn them with signage to that effect. 

If your property is a business or facility that normally welcomes the public on it, your obligations are a little different. You can still prevent someone from coming onto your property.  You have to have a justifiable reason.  It maybe that the individual has committed a disturbance or crime at the location.  That would be a justifiable reason.   You should serve them with a document to advise them they are not to enter onto the property.  You can serve it yourself or have your lawyer send them the document.  Having done so, it will aid the police in future encounters with these unwanted persons. 

32. Obscene phone calls
Q. I have been receiving obscene phone calls. What do I do to put a stop to this? Worried, Airdrie, AB

A. Contact the police and telephone company security office at once.  They will assist you in identifying the individual.  Make note of what was said, before you hang up.  Make a note of the time of each call.  In some cases you may have to change your phone number. Your phone provider can also offer other solutions.

33. Collecting customer information
Q.  As a retailer, what kind of information from a customer should I collect? Clothing shop owner, NW Edmonton, AB

A.  My advice would be to only collect customer information that you require to conduct business between you and the customer. With any information that you have collected you have an obligation to ensure that the information is properly safeguarded. If you don’t require dates of birth and social insurance numbers don’t collect them.

34. Recording conversations
Q.  Can I secretly record employee’s conversations in the coffee room?  I have a large internal theft issue in my business and I am trying to find out who is responsible. Industrial Shop, Nisku, AB

A. You cannot record these conversations. You are allowed by law to covertly record conversations that you are part of.
 
For example I could secretly record a conversation with two individuals and be perfectly legal because I am a party to the conversation. If I was to leave the room, leaving the equipment and recording the conversation between the two remaining parties, I would be committing a criminal offense. Regarding your theft problem I don’t have enough details to offer a solution to your problem.

35. Finding Babysitters
Q.  Where do you go to find babysitters that it is safe to leave your children with? Parent of young children, St. Albert, AB

A.  I think the best source is to ask your friends and acquaintances.  You can also contact a local parent’s association.  You may have some success by checking with your local middle and high schools.  Student counselors have a good handle on which students are capable and interested, but may be restricted in what information can be given out because of Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy laws.  Good luck and check out our Crime-Free booklet on our “products” page.

Return to Question List

36.  Helping stranded motorists
Q.  I have on occasion come across a stranded vehicle on a highway.  I usually just drive by, but then feel that I should have stopped.   How can you be safe in these situations?  Concerned driver, rural Alberta

A.  The goodness in us makes each of us want to stop when we see a stranded motorist.  A stranded motorist scam has been used by criminals for a number of years to commit theft, assaults and car hi-jacking, so be warned.  If you feel that you have to stop, lock your car doors and put down your passenger window about one inch.  Direct them to go to that window.  Leave your car running.  Ask them if they need a tow truck, if yes advise them you will call one for them or stop at the next service station to send help.  Don’t exit the safety of your vehicle, unless you are sure that it is safe to do so.  

37.  Terrorist attacks
Q.   I have watch the terrorist attacks on public places and wonder what I would do if I was there  Any advice on what an individual should  do if you find yourself in one of these attacks?  Concerned Citizen, Alberta

A.   Daily we read about some mass shooting occurring in different types of communities.  It is incumbent upon people to start to develop the habit of being aware what is around you.  Whether sitting in a restaurant, arena or hotel, keep asking yourself:  where is the nearest exit, where is a safe hiding spot?

 If in a group, especially with children, pre-arrange a meeting spot if you have to evacuate a mall or major event.   Don’t pick an exit door but something a block away, because you need to get away from the incident.   Children could get crushed waiting by an exit door.

38.  Underground or High rise Parking lots
Q.   I am a woman that feels really nervous when I have to park in underground or high rise parking lots.  They are usually dark and lonely spots.  Any suggestions?
Nervous, Downtown, Edmonton, AB

A.   I am assuming that the underground parking is controlled by some type of access control.  Typically you pay and gate opens, while others are attended.   Try to park your vehicle as close to the entrance as possible as this is where there is the most traffic.  Be vigilant as you leave and return to your car.  Keys always in hand.  Try to pick well-lit parking spots.   Bottom line is that if you don’t feel safe don’t go there.  Your instincts are usually right. You also may have a horn on your key fob, don’t be afraid to use.

39.  Theft in nursing home
Q. My mother lives in a nursing home and often has items disappearing from her room.  What can we do to stop this?  Family member, NW Calgary, AB

A.  Make sure that you advise management of the thefts.  I have interviewed family members about particular incidents in nursing homes and they will bring up other incidents including theft.  I will ask did you report it the management and often they have not.  Management cannot solve problems if they are not aware of them.

The thieves can be employees, other residents, or visitors of other residents and criminals looking to steal.  Usually due to privacy constraints there are not a lot of cameras in place to help prevent these thefts.  Employees need to be vigilant for individuals entering rooms that they should not be entering.  When staff sees a resident in another resident’s room, if they were not invited in, they should be urged to leave.  Staff must learn to confront people they don’t know, that are in the facility.  A simple “can I help you find someone”, goes a long way in deterring unwanted individuals, and those there to commit crime.  

First thing is to not have unnecessary valuable items in your mother’s room.  Try to keep their cash to smaller amounts.   They are usually provided with a night table with drawers.  Can one or more of the drawers be locked?  Try to limit expensive watches and jewelry if possible.  In most nursing homes a safe is provided to residents where they can store larger amounts of money and a small quantity of valuable items like jewelry.  The residents can go and ask for the amount they may need for an outing etc.

Having an understanding that as the elderly age, over time, may develop dementia.  Items will be misplaced by the resident or another resident with dementia may enter their room and take the item to their room.   Often items that are believed stolen will show up within a couple of days in another resident’s room or where you would least expect it. At the same time some employees will steal when the opportunity arises.  Like I said at the beginning it is important to report all missing items to the management.

40.  Stalking
Q. I met a man a few months back and broke off the relationship.  I keep running into him and believe that he is stalking me.  What should I do?   Uncomfortable, SE Edmonton, AB

A.   Stalking can be a very serious problem.  You should contact the local police and provide as many details as possible to them.  Let them check to determine if there is any history of violence with this individual.   First thing is to be very observant when you are leaving your residence/work and when driving to determine if you are being followed.  If you believe you are drive to the nearest police station or public area.  When out and about there is a safety in numbers, so whether out walking or shopping have company.

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41.  Being followed when in my car
Q.  If I am in my car and believe that I am being followed.   What should I do? Worried driver, SE Calgary, AB

A.  If you have not already done so, immediately lock all your doors.  Do not drive to your residence, but drive to the nearest police station.  Advise the police, you feel you are being followed and provide a vehicle description and license number if you have noted it.
Don’t drive to any isolated area, where you could be forced off the road, with no one else around.  If you are not aware of the location of the police station, drive to the busiest location that you see.   Shopping malls, busy garage where there is lots of people and activity.  Maybe a security guard will be out front.  Call police from there.
Don’t stop your car to phone or search for closest police station on your phone or GPS system.  Keep moving.  If you are unsure about if you are being followed circle the block to see if the vehicle behind keeps turning with you.

42.  Hiding the house key
Q.   I have children that go to school and come home before I get home from work.  They need to get into the house, where is the best place to hid a key for them?  Working parents, West Edmonton, AB

A.   There is no good place.  Thieves are well aware of the most common places to hide keys:  under the front mat, mailbox under a potted plant or rock close to the door.  You only have to watch the kids coming home to see where the house key is hid.  Their friends all know the location.  The best way to handle this situation is to put a keypad on your house door or attach to your garage door if you have an attached garage. Teach your children to not show or tell friends the code being punched in.  Better yet do not allow their friends to come home with them when adults are not at home. With our children, we went the garage door way.  A key pad on outside by door opened and closed the garage door.  We then hid a key to get inside the house inside the garage.  Too many hiding places for a thief to begin to search for a key in there.  The beauty of this system is that you can simply change the keypad code if you think the system has been compromised. Hope this helps.

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