Home > Leadership, The Monday Musings Column > things are not always what they seem to be

things are not always what they seem to be

I have been writing this week about the adulterated meat issue that has dominated headlines recently. Many colleagues that I have spoken with have taken the view that it is just a food chain, product related problem, but the basic lessons go deeper than that as I have found out the hard way.

One summer afternoon a gang of thieves descended on our corner of town where there were a number of combined logistics and administrative sites with some big high street names amongst them. The story that unfolds here only became apparent over the following couple of days, but I’ll tell it broadly as it happened. The gang struck around going home time using the walk in principle that is they just walked in and, if unchallenged, sought what they could and got away with it.

For my team the first indication that we had a problem came at around 1730 when one of the managers who worked on the first floor of our office block reported that she had been knocked over by a male, who she did not recognise, who had run down the stairs past her. As that news was breaking the security team picked up a male attempting to get over our back fence at a point where we had earlier removed a piece of tarpaulin (which we thought might have blown into that corner). The man changed direction and we lost sight of him briefly as a lorry went by, but picked him out again as he ran under the exit gate whist it was up to allow the lorry to leave the site and he disappeared out of range of out cameras.
The descriptions tallied and the lady who had been knocked over was sure that it was the same man, but whilst we were establishing that we were checking the building and found, neatly stacked by the door of one of the top floor offices, a pile of four laptops and we started to understand what might have been going on. Having reported to the Police they later confirmed that around 9 sites had been targeted and a range of computer equipment had been stolen. Most of the perpetrators had got away by climbing over fences in obscure corners of the sites.

Using CCTV from around the business park things moved quickly, and we were able to help not just with camera footage, but we found another clue. In another office adjacent to the one that the lap tops had been found ready in was a site plan, hand drawn and with a remarkably accurate level of detail, but the handwriting was very distinctive and it was recognised by one of our colleagues as belonging to a contractor who had recently worked on the site on an IT cabling project.

The company who had employed him had a contract with the property management company who looked after most of our neighbours and it transpired that our man had been on all of the affected sites. He had drawn detailed plans with notes about security arrangements and had passed them on to the gang.

So what has all of that got to do with horsemeat? Well the principle is that neither were what they said on the tin; the beef wasn’t beef and the cabling man had a criminal record and in both cases there was a lack of control over the supply chain to ensure that proper checks were being carried out.

There is more to this story than I can tell here, but it woke us up to a new problem.

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