Thomas Rica, a former employee of Ridgewood, NJ public works, was recently convicted of four counts of theft.
Rica lost his job as public works inspector for Ridgewood when it was discovered that he stole $500 in quarters from the meter collection storage room. However, a further investigation revealed that he had actually stolen $460,000 by pocketing quarters a handful at a time over a period of two years.
Now Rica will pay an initial fee of $69,000 to the village of Ridgewood as well as $2,000 per month for the next five years. He also lost his pension of $30,000 for his 10 years of employment. Along with these punitive measures, Ridgewood has taken steps to protect its assets and avoid similar situations in the future.
However, Ridgewood might have been able to prevent this crime from ever happening by simply using an electronic key control system with access levels. Just looking at how Rica got to the coins in the first place reveals the problem: Although his job didn’t give him any reason to be in the meter collection room, Rica used a master key he was given “due to the nature of his position” to repeatedly gain unauthorized access to the room.
When using an electronic key control system with access levels, managers can determine which keys employees are authorized to use. That way, individual keys are checked out based on need, rather than just giving upper-level employees a master key. If anyone takes a key outside their authorization level, some systems have the capability to sound an alarm, send an instant text notification to the manager or lock the key down altogether.
Even if an authorized employee tries to steal assets using a key they have permission to use, the electronic key control system tracks and reports user activity, producing a verifiable audit trail that makes it easier for entities like Ridgewood to catch thieves.
To read more about how key control and access levels can track employee behavior and help prevent theft, check out our post “The Four Layers of Physical Security.”