Saturday, 17 February 2007

INSECURE ABOUT SECURITY

Written on Feb. 10
We were back home after a two day trip to Thirupathi.

Each time we leave the house locked and go away, I am always jittery about security, wondering if the house is safe. We live on the first floor of a beautiful house, and my brother-in-law’s office functions on the ground floor.

During the day the place is busy, and I have no qualms about going away in the day time leaving the house locked. But come night, it is a different proposition. The office closes by 6 pm, and the grounds wear a deserted look. As a retired couple’s place, the first floor really doesn’t show much activity even when we are at home. Many is the time people have come asking if the place is available for rent.

But this time, I left with total peace of mind, for my brother-in-law had arranged for security to man the premises, while there was some construction going on downstairs.

There are different men on duty in the day and at night; they would report to my husband as they changed. ‘Changing the guard’ my husband calls it facetiously – a bit like Buckingham Palace, I thought, when they come up and briskly salute together.
We came back last night and were happy to see everything as it ought to be, and the smart security person at his post.

Early this morning when I went down to pick up the milk, I saw my neighbour who asked me if I knew what had happened in the night.
He told me gloatingly that a burglar had attempted to enter our home!

Shocked, I checked with the security person, and he confirmed it. He said he and his colleagues from the nearby buildings had overpowered the person and had taken him to the police station.

Worse was to come. I learnt that the burglar had not directly entered our premises, since we keep the gate locked. He had gone to our neigbour’s place where the stairs can be accessed from the road; he had gone up to their terrace, and from there jumped to our terrace which is easily accessible from there – a bare 10 inches separate the two.
There he had been followed by the security person who had caught him.

I was relieved that the security person had taken care of the whole affair. My husband and I had slept peacefully, as we had not heard a thing. I presume we were just tired after the journey.
I thought what a good thing it was that we had used the services of the security firm, and began wondering if it would not be a good idea to use them all year round.

But only for the next few minutes – till we learnt that the failed burglar was none other than the security man who had been on duty the previous night! He had thought that we would be away for another night.

This is not the first time this has happened to us. Ten years ago, when we went to attend the wedding of my son in Trivandrum, we had used the services of another firm.
We came back to find that a lot of building material left behind after some construction work was missing from the grounds. It transpired that the security man had been in cahoots with a small time burglar and had given him the whereabouts of the materials, and details of the best time to take them away.

Post script: Which brings me to the point – do security firms check the antecedents of the people they hire?
Do they have any criteria for selecting them? At many places I have seen wilting, stooped figures in security uniforms, manning buildings, opening and closing the gates. I suppose these persons, mostly retired and long past their heyday, are enough for that purpose, but what happens when a real threat occurs?
Security firms must clean up their act, and spruce up their manner of employment. What they need are able bodied younger people, and not ill–fed, undernourished senior citizens.

5 comments:

Karthik Narayan said...

good one...

Ramki said...

This was quite scary- I have always feared this in 17 CVRaman Road.

Raji said...

Not very scary as later reports have said that the guy wasn't coming to our place to steal, but to escape from the people who were chasing him from the street behind, where he tried to enter someone's place. Moreover the door to the terrace is locked from the inside, and entry from the terrace is not possible

An interesting sidelight was that he had asked to take the day off to go to Thrupathi(!). Whether he did or not remains a mystery, but he came back with a shaven head and minus moustache - to remain unrecognised!

Geetha Iyengar said...

Interesting piece!
Are Security agencies listening?
Reminds me of the moth_eaten specimens that report for duty from the agency these days as the better ones have left in search of better pastures! Dozing watchmen who wake up only if there is an earth shaking sound and yet insist they were not sleeping!
At least your watchman was awake at night,though the purpose of course is questionnable.
Good to start the day on a bubbly note after reading your blog, Raji.

Sivakami said...

Nice

Sociable