How To Deal With Equipment Theft

Last Updated on October 7, 2021

It’s an inconvenient fact about the world we live in – some people are no good, and will always try to get something for nothing. In the world of event management, that translates to theft of some pretty valuable equipment. See, that’s the problem with event planning: whenever enough people collect in a single area, there’s almost guaranteed to be a few bad eggs.

As an event management professional, it falls to you to make sure those bad eggs can do as little damage to you and your guests as possible. Today, we’re going to go over some of the do’s and don’ts of dealing with thieves, whether they’re targeting you or your attendees. Let’s get started, shall we?

DO: Have A Clear Crisis Management Policy

The most important piece of advice I’ll offer you today is to make sure you’ve got a plan for when something goes missing. Outline exactly how a theft should be reported, who’s responsible for investigating it, and how you’ll be contacted about it. Detail how thefts will be handled by security, and how a thief – if caught – will be dealt with.

More importantly, ensure that volunteers, vendors, and security staff are all aware of this plan, and know to follow it.

DON’T:  Ignore Theft Trends In Your Industry

Although most thieves will generally steal anything that isn’t nailed down, there are nevertheless noticeable trends in what ends up stolen at a particular event. Have your colleagues been reporting a rash of cell phone thefts at trade shows? Then it’s a sure sign you should keep an extra-close watch on mobile devices at your next event.

After all, knowing what people are stealing is the first step towards preventing them from stealing it!

DO: Instruct Volunteers And Security To Remain Watchful

It’s important that you let the people you’re working with know what might be most at risk of theft, and what areas they should pay the closest attention to. Make sure your volunteers know what sort of behavior to watch for – and to report any suspicious activity to the nearest security professional. In general, people who are about to steal something have a number of tells that those who work security know to watch for.

DON’T: Neglect Simple Security Measures

Never underestimate the value of a simple lock or safe room. It doesn’t matter how well-trained your volunteers are, nor how renowned your security contractor, if you aren’t doing basic things like securely storing your equipment. Make sure you’ve well-established access policies, and that equipment is stored in an organized fashion.

To that end…

DO:  Keep Records Of All your Equipment

If you keep constant track of the equipment your firm has at its disposal, you’ll know that much faster if something ends up going missing. Know every single detail about your inventory for an event – the make and model of that projector you’re using in your keynote presentations, or the serial number of the power cable you’re using to keep your sound system running. It’ll also help law enforcement find it if it ends up stolen.

DON’T: Expect To Recover Anything That Ends Up Stolen

Now, even with the most comprehensive records imaginable, there’s still a very good chance that stolen equipment is gone for good. There’s nothing wrong with hoping stuff is recovered, of course; just don’t hold your breath. The sorts of people who steal from events can be incredibly crafty, and difficult to track down once they’ve gotten away.

DO: Control Access To Your Event

One of the best ways to prevent theft is to strictly control who gets in. There’s a fairly good chance that someone who’s paid good money to attend a convention or conference isn’t going to be terribly interested in five-finger discounts, especially if there’s the risk of losing out on their ticket. By that same vein, someone who’s snuck in won’t particularly care.

DON’T: Forget To Instruct Guests On Keeping Their Own Stuff Safe

It’s important to remember that your equipment isn’t the only stuff that’s at risk of being stolen. Truth be told, your guests are probably far more at risk than you are – vendors in particular. It’s important that you give everyone tips on how to prevent theft on their own; advice such as never leaving valuables unattended, keeping cash under lock and key, and always paying attention to their surroundings may seem obvious, but sometimes people forget…and a gentle reminder is all they need to stop a thief in their tracks.

Stop, Thief!

Theft is always going to be an issue at events. When you gather a large volume of people in a single location, you’re bound to attract a few less-reputable types. By properly controlling access to your venue, advising your staff on proper procedures, and keeping track of your gear, you’ll mitigate the damage these criminals can do – and stop quite a few thefts in the process.