nearly $225,000 in cash.
The money had been stored in the department’s property room, where confiscated assets are kept. Unfortunately, the department’s storage methods consisted of stashing the cash in paper bags within a file cabinet. The cabinet was routinely kept locked as of 2011, but the keys were stored in an unlocked box.
The theft was discovered when a man recently released from prison came back to retrieve his money and the department couldn’t find the money within the property room, which was in disarray and lacking adequate records for asset tracking.
Eventually, the stash of cash was found, but several of the paper bags were either slashed open or missing altogether. The theft is thought to be an inside job, but without an adequate audit trail and system of checks and balances, the department is unable to prosecute the suspect.
The police department has taken measures to prevent future thefts by implementing security measures such as around-the-clock security cameras, impromptu property room searches and a policy prohibiting employees being alone in the room.
Law enforcement agencies can learn from the Plantation Police Department’s experience by auditing their security policies, especially asset management and key control procedures. For example, departments responsible for storing valuable confiscated assets can use a high-security electronic key control system with secure lockers to keep items locked up. Rather than keeping locker keys in unsecured boxes, they can be physically locked down in a secure panel that only permits authorized users to remove them.
Using a system with a motion-activated camera, audit trail and biometric fingerprint authentication methods can help create an automatic audit trail that allows key usage to be traced to a specific employee.
To read more about using electronic key control systems for asset management, check out our post “Asset Management: When You Have to Secure More Than Keys.”