Easy Simple Ways To Keep Your Purse Safe At Work
> Offices aren’t as secure as they used to be
It’s mid-afternoon and you’re starting to run out of steam.
So, you get up from your desk and take a short walk to the break room to make yourself a cup of coffee for a little afternoon boost.
As usual, the coffee pot has got just barely a single serving left, enough that the last person doesn’t have to make a new pot.
You pour out that last stale cup and brew a new fresh batch.
As the coffee machine is doing its thing, you head over to the fridge and reach for your fav hazelnut creamer.
You bought that new full bottle last week. There’s no way that you drank that much coffee since last week to finish an entire bottle of creamer.
Unbelievable - somebody is stealing your creamer.
Last week, someone actually ate-stole Dave’s liverwurst sandwich. We don’t know who to be sorry for on that one.
It’s like anything that is in the lunchroom fridge is open game for anyone to eat or drink, even if it’s got a label on it.
You’re a little pissed off about your hazelnut creamer, but you’re not letting it ruin your day.
You resort to the backup option - the powdered non-dairy “creamer” that has a shelf-life that exceeds most human lives.
As you mix your coffee and creamer, you wonder how many other things get pilfered in the office and whether your office is really secure from personal theft.
The Office Isn’t As Safe As You Think
We’d guess that the vast majority of us, like 99%, believe that our workplace is a place where we don’t have to worry about our own safety and security.
And for the most part, there really isn’t any violence in the workplace unless you count copy machine printer abuse. We confess that we’ve fist pounded the keypad on more than a few occasions.
While physical safety and security are the obvious areas that all companies address for its workers, office theft isn’t as closely monitored or managed.
In fact, the US Department of Commerce estimates about $50 billion a year is lost from US companies. This includes not only the big obvious things like stealing money, financial fraud, embezzlement, inventory theft, etc., but also smaller things like theft of office supplies and computer accessories.
According to research firm Static Brain, 75% percent of employees have stolen at least once from their employer and 38% did it at least twice.
And this is only theft of company items. Nobody really knows the extent of personal property theft at work. But if employee theft of company assets is any indication, it’s not a good sign.
Who Steals Stuff From The Office?
If you include things like pens and paper clips, then pretty much everybody has stolen from their company.
What we’re really getting at is what type of person steals stuff from the office?
The answer is anyone that has access into the building or property. This includes all employees from the top honcho all the way down to the summer intern.
It also extends beyond employees to vendors/suppliers, cleaning crew, visitors, etc. Basically, anybody that is given entry into the company has the opportunity to steal.
Although there isn’t any data to support this, we’d guess that the guy or gal who thinks that stealing a ream of paper from the copier room isn’t a big deal is the same person that might contemplate “borrowing” something from a coworker’s desk.
What Gets Stolen From Work?
Monetary theft from accounting fraud and embezzlement is unquestionably the big hit items that can do some serious damage to a company, even bring it down entirely (i.e. - Enron).
That kind of financial theft is what gets all the headlines.
What doesn’t get the media attention is all of the other assets that miraculously disappear from the office - things like…
Employees’ Personal Items
You may bitch about getting your ideas stolen, but what will really set you off is if something personal is stolen from your desk.
At some point, we’ve all been a victim to other coworkers “borrowing” stuff, never to be returned again. It gets especially annoying when it’s something you kinda really like.
Getting your fav red stapler swiped is one thing (we feel you, Milton) but that really belongs to the company, so it’s not personal - no biggie.
But, when it’s your personal property, that’s when things cross the line.
On rare occasions, we’ve heard of cleaning crew and other questionable visitors that have lifted personal items from the office.
The one thing that would really throw your day upside down is if your purse got stolen right from your desk. It’s quite unlikely really, but if it did ever happen, your day would go right down the shitter.
Getting your purse stolen is absolutely the worst, most gut-wrenching thing to go through.
It’s Time To Protect Your Purse
For most of us women, we’re careful with our purses when we’re out and about.
It’s right beside us when we’re eating at a restaurant.
It rides shotgun with us in the car.
We take it with us to the bathroom.
It’s with us in the waiting room.
No matter where we are, when we’re outside, the purse never leaves our side - ever. It’s always within reach and certainly within view.
After all, it’s carrying all of our daily survival essentials - the cash and credit cards; keys to the house, car, and work; driver’s license and work IDs; critical meds and makeup, etc.
Our lives are in our purses.
But, why is it that we all let our guard down when we’re at the office?
We just leave it sitting wide-open right on our desks or in the empty guest chair for most of the day.
We have no issue with leaving it that way when we go to take a coffee break, use the restroom and even when we’re in an all day meeting.
Because most of us consider the office as a safe place where there is no risk of somebody snatching our purse and we justify to ourselves that, “it’ll never happen at work.”
Never say never.
If someone at work is bold enough to walk out of the office with a desk printer (yes, it’s been done), then they’re really only one degree away from stealing personal property too.
But, it’s not just internal employees anymore.
Now, there’s this “gig economy” thing where normal everyday people are taking up micro-jobs doing random things. We don’t have a problem with the gig economy. In fact, we think it’s great. This kind of freelance work opens up opportunities for some side or extra income.
What we’re concerned with is that it’s more likely now than ever before that a random person (not the same UPS or FedEx guy) will be granted entry into the office to make a delivery or pick-up an item.
Some employees will just tell the front desk receptionist to send the delivery person inside instead of meeting them out front to get the delivery - that’s being stupid, careless and lazy.
It opens up a huge security issue in our eyes.
All it takes is a brave food delivery girl to casually walk in and drop off lunches or whatever and walk right out with your purse. Nobody would even look twice at a girl walking out with a purse.
Our Philosophy: “Find A Safe Place Within Your Safe Place”
Most of us consider our home and workplace as safe areas. Of course, the home is by far the safest place for our purse when we’re home.
But the office isn’t as safe as our homes. Yet, we behave like it is. This isn’t a good thing.
What we all need to do is find another safer spot within our office, preferably within our cubicles, for the sake of convenience and easy accessibility.
Ideally, it’s gotta be a lockable storage spot. Or at minimum, a spot that’s not easily reachable within arm’s length over the cubicle partition from the aisle.
If your workspace is a disaster zone, it’s time to get it in order, declutter and make room for your handbag. Make this a priority.
Here are the “safer” spots that you can use to keep your purse secure at your desk.
Option #1: Upper Cabinet
If you’re in a traditional cubicle and not in an open office layout, you most likely have an upper cabinet or two (if you’re lucky).
Try consolidating the items in those cabinets and/or getting rid of old stuff like that five-year-old binder full of old training materials.
Carve out a dedicated spot for your purse and keep it locked up there when you’re at work. The only times it should be taken out is when you’re heading out for lunch or leaving for the day.
Option #2: Lower Drawer
For those of us that don’t have traditional cubicles and sit in open layout desks, we’re severely limited on storage. We may have just one single file cabinet and that may be full of files already.
Check your company’s archiving policies. Some companies have a maximum term length for keeping files - whether in digital or hardcopy form.
Go through these files and if any are past the maximum term, shred them. If they’re still within the term and/or still important enough to keep, scan them into digital pdfs using the copier/printer. Then, shred the originals or put them into a separate file box and ask IT or HR for help on storing it somewhere for you.
This will create just enough room for you to drop your purse in the drawer and lock it up.
Option #3: Empty File/Printer Paper Box Under Desk
This option is the weakest in terms of security, but it’s a creative way to hide something “in plain sight” at your desk. This option is a good one for those that have absolutely zero storage spots.
Go to the copier/printer room and grab an empty box - you know, the ones that hold all the new reams of paper?
Or alternatively, get an archiving file box.
Use this box as your purse storage. Every time you get to your desk in the morning, reach down, grab the box and put your purse inside. Then, slide it under your desk for the day.
Nobody would ever know that your purse is in there. It just looks like a file box. In fact, label it with a fat sharpie, “Old Training Materials” and none will be wiser to it.
Not only will it hide it from prying eyes, but it will also keep it cleaner than just putting it directly on the floor. Treat your hard workin’ bag with some respect, ladies!
Option #4: Lock Up Wallet & Keys In Drawer
This is another option for those that just don’t have any real storage spots at their desk.
The only real valuable thing in most purses in the wallet. It’s got your ID, cash and cards. And your car and home keys are essential.
So, unless you’ve got a Hermes Birkin bag, you can leave your work bag out on your desk or better yet, use the floor box idea above, then take your wallet and keys out and any other valuables and lock that shit up in your desk drawer.
BTW, if you’re really rockin’ a Birkin as your daily work bag, we’re super-jelly. You go, girl! Definitely keep this locked up at your desk - no matter what. Find a way to make it fit or leave it at home.
Option #5: Locker (If Available)
For some that work in open floor plan layouts, the company will provide lockers for employees to stash their belongings during the day.
If you’ve got one, buy a good lock and leave your purse in the locker and just take the essentials you need back to your desk.
Yes, you may find that you’ll have to get up more often during the day to grab something from your purse, but don’t look at it as a negative thing.
It’s good to get up from your desk frequently and move around throughout the day. It’s been proven that sitting for extended periods of time is not healthy for us. So, get up a move around every once in a while. In fact, a little exercise at work goes a long way for your health.
Plan For Your Purse To Be Stolen
It’s far better to be ready for the worst to happen and not have it become a reality than it is for it to happen and not be ready.
So, planning for your purse to be stolen (whether at work or elsewhere) is a good way to check yourself and make changes.
The overall goal is to minimize the amount of monetary and non-monetary loss and minimize the potential for identity theft.
1) Don’t Be A Walking ATM Machine
Only keep enough cash in your work bag to get you through a few days, maybe through the work week at the maximum. If you fall short during the work week, you can easily pop by the ATM during lunch.
Keep most of the Benjamins at the bank, not in your handbag.
2) Leave The Checkbook At Home
If you’re one of the last remaining women carrying a checkbook in your work bag, what in the world are you using it for? Seriously?
Don’t be that woman that pays with a check at the grocery store and God forbid, don’t use paper coupons with the checks too. You just might get your ass kicked.
Everything can be done without checks now. Leave the checkbook at home. This prevents a thief from getting your bank routing and account numbers.
3) Dump The Extra Credit & Gift Cards
About that credit card from Lord & Taylor that you signed up for years ago to get the initial discount...why are you still carrying it in your wallet?
You haven’t shopped there since.
Leave these kinds of rarely used credit cards at home or even better, cancel them outright if you have a zero balance. It’ll be one less credit card fraud issue to deal with.
For the gift cards, call the retailer and register each one with your phone number or use their mobile app instead.
The bonus of dumping these extra cards is that you’ll be slimming down your long wallet too.
4) Don’t Keep Personal Info In Bag
This is one that often gets missed. The first things we think of when talking about valuable items in our work bags is cash and cards.
But really, the big value is information, specifically, your identity. This has exponentially more value to a professional thief than the three-year-old gift card from Target.
So, why keep your social security card in your bag? You have it memorized anyway. Leave it at home.
Next, don’t keep any digital files or data on a USB stick. These things are small and can easily disappear in the abyss of your purse. Any digital files will have some valuable data that can provide hints and clues to help an identity thief.
5) Keep The Jewelry Extras At Home
Those pricey extra pieces of jewelry, diamond earrings, gold rings and bracelets should all be left at home. You don’t need to be a mobile jewelry store.
They all probably ended up in your bag when you took them off during the day and now, they’ve been living in your bag ever since.
Take them out and leave them in the jewelry box at home.
6) Save Toll-Free Fraud Numbers For Bank And Cards
Put together an emergency list of toll-free numbers for your bank and each and every one of your credit cards.
Every financial institution will have a dedicated fraud prevention toll-free number. Find out what these toll-free numbers are for each one.
Save this list in your personal email archive - either send it to yourself or keep it as a perpetual draft email for continual updating and additions.
Then, if your purse or wallet ever gets swiped, you’ll have a quick list of calls to make to prevent fraudulent charges.
7) Disaster Recovery Plan
All typical IT departments have backup and disaster recovery plans for when everything goes haywire and/or all data is lost. They have plans in place to follow to get things back on track.
You need to do likewise.
You have everything in your purse. Everything you need to run your life is in there.
Now, imagine if your purse got stolen with everything in it and think through how you would recover.
No cell phone.
No cash or credit cards.
No car or house keys.
How are you going to recover?
Do you have important phone numbers written down elsewhere? Because remember, the phone was in the bag when it got taken. And, nobody has phone numbers memorized anymore.
How can you get home without your car since you don’t have the car keys? How can you even pay for a taxi without any cash? How can you get into your house?
Think things through on how you can recover and jot down the solutions.
A Safe Purse Means One Less Thing To Worry About At Work
We’ve got a million things on our minds during the day, why make it a million and one with the worry about your purse?
Take a look around your workspace.
Think of the options available to you and use the one that would be easy to follow and stick with.
Not only can you use this spot for your purse, it can also be a safe spot for all your personal packages that you get delivered to work too.
There’ll definitely be some folks in the office that will think you’re overreacting and too paranoid. But, it’s not their purse or their money - it’s yours and you’ve worked hard for it.
Besides, what they think doesn’t matter.
It’s for your own peace-of-mind.
And, when you can devote more of your mental energy to focusing on work and less on other random stressors, the better off you’ll be.
Now, if we can only convince our facilities people to allow us to have our own personal lockable mini-fridge under our desks...